Skip to main content

Full text of "Kentucky's famous feuds and tragedies : authemtic history of the world renowned Vendettas of the dark and bloody ground"

See other formats

Presented to the 


by the 




Kentucky's Famous 
Feuds and Tragedies 


Authentic History of the World Renowned Vendettas 
of the Dark and Bloody Ground 



R. F. Fenno & Co 

* **'' 

16 East Iffllrftoreet, New York 



Copyright, 1917, by 

E. F. Fenno & Company 




Origin of the fetid. Fight near the Hatfield Tunnel. 
Killing of Bill Staton. Killing of Allison Hatfield. 
Butchery of the three McCoy brothers. Murder of Jeff 
McCoy. The tell-tale bloody lock of hair. Quarrel of 
the Governors of Kentucky and West Virginia. Official 
correspondence between them. Frank Phillips, the daring 
raider, appears upon the scene. Capture of members of 
the Hatfield clan. Night Attack upon the McCoy home. 
Burning of the McCoy home. Cowardly murder of his 
daughter Allifair. Brave defense of old man McCoy and 
his son Calvin. Death of Calvin McCoy. Wounding of 
Mrs. McCoy. Heroism of little boy. Escape of Ran- 
dall McCoy. Retribution. Frank Phillips gives battle 
to the outlaws. Death of brutal Jim Vance. Battle of 
Grapevine Creek. List of casualties. Kentucky and West 
Virginia on the verge of war. Phillips, the raider, ar- 
rested. His trial in the United States Court His ac- 
quittal. Phillips' pluck. Triple tragedy at Thacker, 
W. Va. Cap Hatfield and his "boy" in the toils. Their 
escape from jail. Defying arrest. Battle of " Devil's Back 
Bone." Destruction of the stronghold with dynamite. 
Execution of Ellison Mount. Conclusion. 


Introduction. The two chief causes of the feud. Poli- 
tics and whiskey. Judge Hargis the innocent cause of the 


8 Contents 

political strifeFirst blood. Pitched battle at Morehead. 
Murder of Soloman Bradley and wounding of John 
Martin and Sizemore. Martin arrested. Mob violence 
threatened, His removal to Winchester jail. Craig Tol- 
liver and his clan lay plans for Martin's assassination. 
Forged order for delivery of prisoner presented to jailer 
at Winchester. Martin turned over to his murderers. As- 
sassination of Martin on the train. Intense excitement at 
Morehead. County Attorney Young shot from ambush. 
His removal from the county. Assassination of Stewart 
Baumgartner. Judge Cole and others charged with con- 
spiracy. Investigation of the charges. The Tolliver clan 
captures the town. Riots. Cook Humphrey becomes the 
leader of the Martin faction. Treaty of peace at Louis- 
ville. Violation of treaty. Confession of Ed. Pierce. 
Humphrey and Raymond located at Martin residence. 
Siege of the Martin home. Attack. Craig Tolliver 
wounded. Humphrey's escape. Raymond's death. Burn- 
ing of the Martin home. County Judge's weakness. 
Troop's sent to Morehead. Tollivers and others arrested. 
Farce trials and acquittals. Jeff Bowling goes to Ohio. 
His finish there. Humphrey resigns as sheriff. Condi- 
tions in Rowan County. Humphrey and Sheriff Ramey 
fight. Sheriff and son badly wounded. W. O. Logan 
killed. Soldiers at Morehead the second time. Second 
treaty of peace. Articles of agreement to cease hostilities. 
Humphrey departs from Rowan County. Craig Tolliver 
violates treaty. Reign of terror at Morehead. Wholesale 
exodus of townspeople. Murder of the Logan boys. 
Burning of their home. Mutilation of the corpses. The 
avengers. Boone Logan to the front His interview with 
the Governor. Logan declares his intention to retake his 
fireside or to die in the attempt. Purchase of arms at 
Cincinnati. Surreptitious shipment. Preparations for bat- 
tle. The Battle of Morehead. Killing of Craig, Bud, Jay 
Tolliver and Hiram Cooper, wounding of others. Inci- 

Contents 9 

dents of the battle. Troops at Morehead. Indictment of 
Logan, Pigman, Perry and others. Trials and acquittals. 
Return of peace. 


Causes leading up to the war. Assassination of Silas 
Gayheart. The gathering of the clans. Scouting through 
the country. Compromise and treaty of peace of Big 
Creek. Treaty violated. Murder of Gambriel in the 
streets of Hazard. Assassination from ambush of young 
Nick Combs and Joe C. Eversole, leader of the Eversole 
clan. Brutality of the murderers. Pursuit of the outlaws. 
Discovery of the ambush. Escape of Judge Josiah 
Combs. Campbell becomes chief of the Eversoles. 
Hazard in a state of siege. Campbell's tragic death. 
Killed by his own men. Assassination of Shade Combs. 
Assassination of Elijah Morgan near Hazard. Corre- 
spondence between the Circuit Judge and the Governor. 
Troops ordered to Hazard. Report of Capt. Sohan and of 
Adjutant-General Sam E. Hill on conditions in Perry 
County. County Militia organized. Resumption of hostil- 
ities on retirement of the troops. Battle of Hazard. 
Killing of Ed. Campbell. Fusilade continued throughout 
the day and night and the following morning. Thrilling 
escape of Fields and Profitt. Murder of McKnight. 
Court house riddled with shot. Withdrawal of the Ever- 
sole forces. Wounding of Fields. Burning of the court 
house. " Blanket " court. Troops again at Hazard. The 
" lions n caged. Murder of Cornett. Assassination of 
Judge Josiah Combs. Exciting pursuit of outlaws. 
Wounding of one of the outlaws. Their escape. Their in- 
dictment, capture, trial and conviction. Acquittal of 
French and Fields. Murder of Dr. John E. Rader. Exe- 
cution of Bad Tom Smith. 

io Contents 


The Strong-Amy feud; the Strong-Callahan feud.^. 
Conditions during the eighties; official correspondence be- 
tween Circuit Court Judge and the Governor. The murder 
mills keep grinding. The beginning of the Hargis-Cock- 
rell-Marcum-Callahan vendetta. Political contest cases 
create bad blood. Hargis assumes office as county judge. 
Callahan the sheriff of the county. Trouble between 
Marcum and Judge Hargis. The Cockrell brothers. Mur- 
der of Ben Hargis by Tom Cockrell; killing of John 
Hargis. The clans arm. Dr. Cox assassinated at night 
while on a professional call. Marcum informed that he 
was marked for assassination. Laying plots for his death. 
Mose Feltner, Marcum's friend in the enemy's camp. 
Marcum gives out a dramatic statement of the many at- 
tempts made upon his life. Murder of Jim Cockrell in 
broad daylight from the court house. Escape of mur- 
derers. Judge Hargis and Sheriff Callahan make no effort 
for their apprehension. Marcum again warned of his 
coming assassination. Murder of Marcum. Escape of 
assassins. The county judge and sheriff spectators of the 
murder. Tragic incidents of the assassination. Reign of 
terror at Jackson. Schools and churches closed. Public 
pressure forces investigation. Troops place Jackson under 
martial law. Capt. Ewen tells the story of Marcum's as- 
sassination and identifies the murderers. Ewen threatened 
with death. Burning of his home while troops are at 
Jackson. Indictment of Judge Hargis, Sheriff Callahan, 
Curtis Jett, and Tom White for the murders of Jim Cock- 
rell, Dr. Cox and Marcum. Change of venue to other 
courts. Determined prosecution. Conviction of White 
and Jett for life. Description of Jett. Manufacture of 
fake alibis. Confession of a witness convicted of swear- 
ing falsely for the defense. Accuses high officials of 
Breathitt of intimidation. Release of the convicted per- 

Contents n 

jurer because of his confession. Hargis and Callahan 
escape conviction. Semblance of order finally restored 
in the county. Murder of Judge Hargis by his son, Beach 
Hargis. Details of the fratricide. Caustic dissenting 
opinion of one of the judges of the Court of Appeals. 
Conviction of Beach Hargis for life. His release from 
prison. Assassination of Ed. Callahan, the last of the 
feud leaders. Details of the assassination. Conviction of 
his assassins. Comments. 


THE feudal wars of Kentucky have, in the 
past, found considerable publicity through news- 
papers. Unfortunately, many newspaper re- 
porters dealing with this subject were either de- 
prived of an opportunity to make a thorough in- 
vestigation of the facts, or permitted their imag- 
ination to supply what they had failed to obtain. 
At any rate, the result was distortion of the truth 
and exaggeration. 

Exaggeration is not needed to make Kentucky's 
feudal wars of thrilling, intensely gripping inter- 
est to every reader. 

More than a score of years were spent in the 
collection of this material, involving tedious and 
painstaking investigations. The greatest diffi- 
culty was experienced in separating truth from 
falsehood. Often the most vital facts could be 
obtained solely from the actors in the bloody 
dramas. The feudists and their relatives proved, 
quite naturally, partial or prejudiced, and at all 
times were reluctant to admit any fact detrimental 
to their side, or favorable to their enemies. 

I believe, however, that I have succeeded, with 

14 Preface 

the aid of court records, legislative investigations 
and official military reports, in my task of pro- 
during a strictly authentic history of Kentucky's 
Famous Feuds and their attending tragedies. 

I trust that the publication of this volume will 
serve its designed purposes: to make crime 
odious; to illustrate the havoc that may be 
wrought anywhere through the lax, inefficient or 
corrupt administration of justice; to arouse the 
people, not of Kentucky only, but of the country 
at large to the necessity of dealing sternly with 
crime and faithless officers. 


Harlan, Ky., September, 1916. 


A BRIEF review of the history of Kentuckians 
may assist the reader to understand why they, a 
kind, hospitable people to the stranger, have so 
long borne the reputation of ready fighters who 
often kill upon the slightest provocation, and de- 
serve that reputation in a large measure. It is 
" bred in the bone " for a Kentuckian to quickly 
resent an insult or redress an injury. 

Long before the advent of the white man Ken- 
tucky, then Fincastle County, Virginia, had been 
the vast hunting grounds of the Cherokees, 
Creeks, Chickasaws and Catawbas of the South, 
and of the more hostile tribes of Shawnees, Dela- 
wares and Wyandots of the North. These tribes, 
when chance brought them together on their an- 
nual hunts, engaged in conflicts so instant, so 
fierce and pitiless that the territory became known 
as the Dark and Bloody Ground. 

It was indeed a hunter's paradise. Dense 
forests covered the mountains. Cane brakes 
fringed the banks of numerous beautiful streams, 
while to the west lay immense undulating plains. 
Forest, cane brake and plain were literally alive 


16 Introduction 

with bear, deer and the buffalo ; the woods teemed 
with innumerable squirrels, pheasants, wild tur- 
keys and quail. 

The fame of this hunting ground had attracted 
bold and adventurous hunters long before Daniel 
Boone looked upon one of the most beautiful 
regions in the world from the crest of Cum- 
berland Mountain. 

These hunters, upon their return home, gave 
glowing accounts of the richness and fertility of 
the new country, and excited powerfully the 
curiosity and imagination of the frontier back- 
woodsmen east of the Alleghanies and of North 

To the hardy adventurers the lonely wilder- 
ness, with its many dangers, presented attractions 
not to be found in the confinement and enfeebling 
inactivities of the towns and little settlements. 
Daniel Boone visited the new territory. He 
found that the descriptions he had received of it 
were by no means exaggerations, and decided to 
remove thither with his family. After some de- 
lay amid many difficulties the first white settle- 
ment, Harrodstown (Harrodsburg) was estab- 
lished. Within a few years other stations sprang 
into existence and population increased with 
amazing rapidity. Immigrants crossing the Cum- 
berland mountains settled in the eastern and cen- 

Introduction 17 

tral parts of Kentucky, while those traveling 
down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, generally 
located in the northern, western and southern 
portions of the state. 

This invasion by the white man was not ac- 
complished, however, without long-continued, 
bloody struggles with the savages. To maintain 
the slender foothold Boone and his companions 
had gained, required great courage and tenacity 
of purpose. 

The man who shivered at the winter's blast, 
or trembled at every noise, the origin of which he 
did not understand, was not known among those 
hardy settlers with nerves of iron and sinews of 
steel, who were accustomed from earliest child- 
hood to absolute self-dependence and inured to 
exposure and dangers of every sort.* Man in 
this connection must include the pioneer women 
who by their heroism illustrated their utter con- 
tempt of danger, and an insensibility to terrors 
which would palsy the nerves of men reared in 
the peaceful security of densely populated com- 
munities. Even children of tender years exhib- 
ited a courage and self -composure under trying 
circumstances that at this day seem unbelievable. 

The life of the Kentucky pioneer and back- 
woodsman was one of long and bitter struggle. 
*Collin's "History of Kentucky." 

1 8 Introduction 

Hunting, clearing the forest, plowing and fight- 
ing were his daily occupations. Every " station " 
had its conflicts with the savages who fought with 
relentless desperation when they found themselves 
gradually but surely driven from their beloved 
hunting grounds. 

These armed hunters and farmers were their 
own soldiers. They built their own forts, they 
did their fighting under commanders they had 
themselves chosen. They fought the foe in his 
own style, adopted his mode of warfare, and 
proved generally more successful than bodies of 
troops who battled untier time-honored military 

The Indian understood the advantage of cover, 
and the white man copied his methods. Thus 
most of the Indian fights became nothing more 
nor less than ambuscades in which the side dis- 
playing the most skill in placing them, won the 
victory. Boone, Kenton, Brady, Wetzel all that 
galaxy of pioneers and Indian fighters of the 
early West fought the enemy from ambush. 

There were few courts, and the justices presid- 
ing over them knew but little law. If the law 
proved too slow, or courts were too far away, 
the settlers tried criminals and inflicted the pun- 
ishment. The backwoodsman was prompt to 
avenge a wrong. He was grim, stern, strong, 

Introduction 19 

easily swayed by stormy passions, and always a 
lover of freedom, to the core. He had suffered 
horrible injuries from the Indians and learned 
to retaliate in kind. He became cruel and re- 
lentless toward an enemy, but was loyal to the 
d^ath to his friends and country. He was up- 
right and honest. These pioneers were indeed 
cast in the heroic mold. Many of them fell in the 
struggle ; but there was no time for sentiment and 
wailing. Over the prostrate bodies of the fallen 
civilization marched triumphantly westward and 
gave to America one of the most attractive re- 
gions, to the nation heroic soldiers, brilliant law- 
yers, men of science and of art, and a womanhood 
whose beauty and accomplishments are a by- 
word everywhere. 

With the close of Indian hostilities came rapid 
development of the more easily accessible portions 
of the state. Intercourse with the East and 
North obliterated old habits and customs and 
primitive notions. The fertility of the soil 
created wealth and with it came comfort. With 
increasing prosperity came that high intellectual 
development so essential to a sound, moral public 
sentiment, respect for the law, and love of peace 
and order, the foundation stones of a happy social 
structure. Schools and churches demonstrated 
their all-powerful influence by the refinement and 

2O Introduction 

social purity of the inhabitants. The cade duello 
which had formerly been resorted to almost uni- 
versally in settling personal differences, was made 
a crime by law and completely disappeared. 

In the mountains, however, development was 
slow. That section remained isolated and prac- 
tically cut off from intercourse with the more 
populous and advanced portions of Kentucky and 
surrounding States. Only in recent years have 
railroads begun to spread their iron network 
through the mountains, tapping the almost inex- 
haustible coal veins, mineral deposits of various 
kinds, wonderful forests of timber, until now 
that section is become the richest in the State. 

Education and refinement distinguished the 
Blue Grass Kentuckian at an early date; he had 
long enjoyed the advantages of modern civiliza- 
tion, while his mountaineer brother yet lived in 
the primitive fashion of his forebears, and still 
remained a backwoodsman. He suffered the 
same privations and possessed the traits of char- 
acter of the early pioneers of the Blue Grass. 

For long years the mountain section remained 
a wilderness, with here and there a small settle- 
ment. The inhabitants lived the lives of fron- 
tiersmen and were generally poor. While many 
of them owned large tracts of land, its produc- 
tiveness scarcely repaid the labor spent in cultiva- 

Introduction 21 

tion. The great majority of these people were 
honest, upright and hardworking, but the wil- 
derness, the frontier, unfortunately attracts the 
vicious, the violent, the criminal, the shiftless, the 
outcast of better communities. Such characters 
have a pernicious influence upon those with whom 
they come in contact, especially upon the young 
and thoughtless fellows with a taste for vicious- 
ness.* The mountains of the surrounding states 
of Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee of- 
fered admirable asylum to fugitives from justice 
of those States. As like seeks like, individuals 
and families of that stripe settled near each other, 
intermarried, and thus formed a dangerous ele- 
ment in an otherwise good population. 

Life in the wilderness, the frontier, is apt to 
bring out the true nature of the man, and his 
qualities, good or bad, are accentuated. The his- 
tory of every frontier of this country is the 
same. The man who leaves the restraining in- 
fluence of civilization behind him, becomes either 
man or devil. If there is " dog-hair " in a man, 
the wilderness, the frontier, will sprout it. 

When the wicked element in a community had 
once gained a foothold, it organized against pos- 
sible interference. Once organization was com- 
plete, all attempts to enforce law and order were 
* Roosevelt's "Winning of the West" 

22 Introduction 

promptly stifled through terrorization which in- 
timidated courts and overawed the officers of the 
law. Under such circumstances the good ele- 
ment has but one alternative to lie supinely on 
its back and ask to be killed, or to organize and 
strike back at the enemy, to destroy the vicious 
with powder and shot, in open fight, if possible, 
from ambush if necessary, as their sires fought in 
the days of the Indian. Herein lies the secret of 
the long-continued, bloody internecine strifes 
which have made the dark and bloody ground 
of the Indian days more dark and more bloody. 
Herein we find the ready and clear explanation 
of the fact that many men of unquestioned in- 
tegrity and honor were thrown into the vortex of 
bloody strife from necessity, to fight for pres- 
ervation of themselves, their families, their fire- 

Immigration into these remote mountain re- 
gions was almost nil and intermarriage be- 
tween the settlers became the rule. In this wise 
the population of any county comprised but very 
few distinct families. Everybody was of kin to 
everybody else, and therein we find the key to 
the difficulties encountered by courts in dealing 
with crime. 

The murderer, if a member of a prominent 
family, was certain to have kinsmen among the 

Introduction 23 

officers. (We may as well use the present tense 
in speaking of this, for the same conditions exist 
to-day, though less pronounced.) His " family," 
man, woman and child, stand by him, aid his 
escape or his defence in the court house. If the 
criminal, conscious of the supporting influence 
surrounding him, disdains flight and boldly faces 
trial, the next move is to secure a jury which will 
acquit him. It often happens that those inter- 
ested in the prosecution secretly come to an 
agreement with the accused and his friends to 
cease prosecution provided he and his in their 
turn would do the same to them in cases of their 
own. It is merely a case of "you scratch my 
back and I'll scratch yours." Citizens who love 
peace are loath to antagonize an outlaw clan so 
long as they or theirs are not directly concerned. 
They have no desire to assist officers in doing 
their duty, should these wish to do it To in- 
dict men for crime is often a risky thing. 

The criminal who has succeeded in defeating 
justice grows more bold, continues to pursue his 
career with an enhanced contempt of the law, 
until, at last, the cup runs over, and men, good 
and true, rise above self, and for country's and 
humanity's sake take upon themselves the task 
of restoring peace and order, and summarily cut 
short the life cycle of the outlaw. 

24 Introduction 

How far such organized bands of murderers 
have succeeded in overawing the constituted au- 
thorities, is illustrated by instances recorded in 
this volume, where the law, the government itself, 
actually compromised with the outlaws, promised, 
yea, granted them immunity from past crimes, 
only exacting a pledge of better behavior in 
the future. If a man had committed but one 
little murder, he was in some danger of a short 
term in the penitentiary. If he understood his 
business, instead of stopping at one assassina- 
tion, he simply continued his murder mill in opera- 
tion and the authorities would send special min- 
isters and envoys to " treat " with him as a power 
entitled to respect. Exaggeration ? No ! * 

Officers of the law have actually aided in as- 
sassinations, or stood idly by while murders were 
committed in their presence. Investigation has 
proven that in every feud-ridden section the en- 
tire legal machinery was rotten to the core, per- 
verted to the end and purpose of protecting par- 
ticular men and of punishing their enemies. Is 
it any wonder, then, that in such times and under 
such conditions preaching respect for law is 
breath wasted? 

Sifting the matter down, we find that the chief 
contributing causes of these feudal troubles, 
* " Rowan County Feud," Chapter 2. 

Introduction 25 

wherever they have occurred, or may again oc- 
cur, are due directly : to inefficient, corrupt and 
depraved officials; to a want of a healthy moral 
public sentiment, through lack of proper educa- 
tion and religious training; to the fact that the 
law-abiding element of the feud-ridden counties 
had so long been domineered over by the criminal 
class and their parasites and supporters in secret, 
that they are incapable of rendering any valuable 
assistance in maintaining the law save in few ex- 
ceptions, and these few so much in the minority 
that a reformation is not to be hoped for if left 
to their own resources; that during all the social 
chaos attending feudal wars the promiscuous, un- 
restrained and illegal sale of whiskey added fury, 
fire and venom to the minds and hearts of mur- 
derers. It dragged into the terrible vortex of 
bloody crime many not directly connected with 
the feud, but who took advantage of the disturbed 
social conditions, the state of anarchy, to satisfy 
their own vicious propensities without fear of in- 
terruption and punishment.* 

''The clannishness of the mountaineer has been 
the subject of much comment. The student of 
sociology must, therefore, be interested in learn- 
ing that in a great measure the people of the Ken- 
tucky mountains descended from the same stock 

*Doeuments (Ky.) 1888 

2,6 Introduction 

that formed the noted Scottish clans of old. One 
need only run over the names of the principal 
mountain families to recognize their Scot origin. 
The Scots love the highlands, and to the " high- 
lands "of Kentucky many of them drifted. Scot- 
land had her feuds those of the Kentucky moun- 
tains are nothing more nor less than transplanted 
Scottish feuds, their continuation having been 
made possible by the reasons heretofore given. 

We believe it germane to the matter under dis- 
cussion to add that not only feuds, but mobs and 
the like, are, and ever have been, the direct out- 
growth of a lack of confidence of the people in 
their courts. The shameful nightrider outrages 
in the western part of Kentucky a few years ago, 
in a section which had boasted of a civilization su- 
perior by far to that of the mountaineers, where 
schools and churches are to be met with at every 
corner, were the outcome, so it is claimed, of 
the failure of the law to deal sternly with the 
lawless tobacco trust, the " original wrongdoer ? ' 
in the noted tobacco war. If this were true, if 
this justified the destruction by incendiaries of 
millions of dollars' worth of property, brutal 
whippings, the indiscriminate slaughter of entire 
families without regard to age or sex, the butch- 
ery of little children (for aiding the tobacco trust, 
no doubt) then, indeed, is the mountaineer feudist 

Introduction 27 

also innocent of wrongdoing; more so, for he, at 
least, never made war upon suckling infants, nor 
have women suffered harm, except in one or two 
instances. Nor is the cultured Blue Grass citi- 
zen free to censure him, when he calls to mind 
the outrages of the toll-gate raids, or takes into 
account the numerous lynching bees, proceedings 
from which the mountains have always been prac- 
tically free. 

In view of all this we cannot go far from 
wrong when we say that the law's delay, the fail- 
ure to punish promptly, impartially and severely 
its infractions, must shoulder the responsibility 
for all social disturbances, and this is true in New 
York, in the West, as well as in Kentucky. 

Kentucky's Famous 
Feuds and Tragedies 


PERHAPS no section in the whole United States 
has ever been the scene of more crime and long- 
continued defiance of the law than that contiguous 
to the Tug Fork, one of the tributaries of the Big 
Sandy river, and which forms the boundary line 
between West Virginia and Kentucky, separating 
Logan County, W. Va., from Pike County, Ky. 

Many feuds have been fought there, but none 
equalled in ferocity the bloody Hatfield-McCoy 
war, during which crimes of the most revolting 
nature were perpetrated. Indeed, it will be dif- 
ficult for the reader to believe that the devilish 
deeds related in this chapter are actually true and 
did occur in the midst of a civilized country, 
peopled with Christian men and women, and gov- 
erned (?) by wholesome laws. Yes, citizens of 
a common country fought a struggle to the bitter 
death without hindrance, if not with the actual 


30 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

connivance of those entrusted with the enforce- 
ment of law and the maintenance of order, who 
looked idly upon bloodshed. The flag of anarchy, 
once unfurled, fluttered unmolested for years. 
Had the feud broken out suddenly and been 
quickly suppressed, we should abstain from stric- 
tures upon high officials entrusted with the ad- 
ministration and execution of the law. But this 
American vendetta covered a long period, abat- 
ing somewhat at times, only to break out anew 
with increased ferocity. Utter disregard for hu- 
man life, ruthless, savage cruelty, distinguish this 
feud from all others and easily give it the front 

To add to the horror of it all, came the bitter 
controversy between the governors of West Vir- 
ginia and Kentucky, nearly precipitating civil war 
between the two States, and effectively paralyzing 
all attempts at concerted action looking toward 
the capture, trial and punishment of the outlaws, 
at least for a long time. That the feud is ended 
now is due largely to the fact that the material 
upon which it had been feeding for so many 
years, became exhausted through the pistol, rifle 
or the knife. But few died of disease, only one 
was hanged, perhaps the least guilty of them all, 
for he was a moral degenerate of such little in- 
telligence that under other circumstances he might 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 31 

have escaped the gallows on the ground of mental 
irresponsibility. The leading spirits of the war 
were never punished, but rounded out their lives 
at home unmolested. 

The region along the Tug Fork is mountainous, 
and has not until recently come in touch with the 
outside world. Its inhabitants for many years 
knew nothing of schools, or churches. Ignorance 
prevailed to a truly astonishing degree. Courts 
exercised no authority; their decrees were 
laughed at and ridiculed. If a man thought him- 
self aggrieved he sought redress as best suited 
him. The natives tried cases in their own minds 
and acted as executioners, using the rifle or the 
knife. When trials, in rare instances, were re- 
sorted to, they more often fanned the flame of 
hatred than smothered it. 

The contending factions in this internecine 
strife lived on opposite sides of the Tug Fork, a 
narrow stream. Randall McCoy, the leader or 
head of the McCoy faction, resided on the Black- 
berry Branch of Pond Creek in Pike County, 
Kentucky. Near him, but on the opposite side of 
Tug Fork, in West Virginia, lived Anderson Hat- 
field, who had adopted for himself the nom-de- 
guerre of "Bad Anse " or "Devil Anse," the 
controlling spirit of the Hatfield dan. 

Both families were large, extensively related 

32 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

throughout the two counties and composing the 
greater portion of their population. The Mc- 
Coys and Hatfields frequently intermarried and 
thus it happens that we find McCoys arrayed on 
the side of the Hatfields and Hatfields friendly 
to the Randall McCoy faction. 

While the feud proper did not break out until 
1882, it is necessary to go back further. For the 
enmity between the Hatfields and McCoys dates 
back to the Civil War, during which the former 
maintained an organized company of raiders, os- 
tensibly for the purpose of protecting property 
against invading marauders of either army. The 
McCoys supported a similar force on the Ken- 
tucky side. These bands frequently encroached 
upon and entered each other's territory, resulting 
in clashes and bad blood, though both factions 
adhered to the same political party. After the 
war the older heads tried to maintain a show of 
friendship in their intercourse, but the younger 
generations allowed their passions a free hand. 
Difficulties grew in frequency ; still no lives were 

A few razor-backed, long-legged, sharp-nosed 
porkers are the indispensable adjunct of well-reg- 
ulated mountaineer families. In those days the 
farmer marked his hogs and turned them loose 
in the woods. They soon fattened on the abun- 

The Great Hat field-McCoy Feud 33 

dant mast and were, late in the fall, driven home 
to be killed. If one of those marked hogs hap- 
pened to turn up in the possession of another, 
woe unto him. Vengeance was visited upon him 
swiftly, though not as severe as in the case of 
rustlers in the West. A circuit judge of Ken- 
tucky once remarked, very appropriately, that a 
hog seemed of more value in his district than a 
human life. There was truth in this bit of sar- 
casm. More men have been acquitted of murder 
in Kentucky than of hogstealing. It seems ridic- 
ulous that a few of the unseemly brutes should 
have become the innocent promoters of a feud, 
but it is true. Innocent or not, the facts are 
against them. Sometime during the seventies 
one Floyd Hatfield, afterwards known as " Hog " 
Floyd, drove a number of hogs from the forests 
and confined them in a pen at Stringtown. A few 
days later Randolph McCoy of Kentucky passed 
the pen in question and upon examination of the 
animals claimed them as his property and de- 
manded their delivery to him, which Hog Floyd 
refused to do. McCoy brought an action for 
their recovery. The trial was held at Raccoon 
Hollow, a little village some miles down the val- 
ley. Deacon Hatfield, Floyd's relative, presided. 
The McCoys and Hatfields attended the trial in 
force. Every man was armed. During the short 

34 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

trial many things occurred that convinced those 
acquainted with the characters of the men com- 
posing the factions, that bloody hostilities must 
result. Randolph McCoy made an impassioned 
speech to the jury, openly charging several Hat- 
field witnesses with perjury. Among those so 
accused was one Stayton who, incensed by the 
charge, attempted to strike his traducer, but was 
prevented by Randolph McCoy's son. McCoy 
lost his case. The Hatfields exulted, jeered and 
sneered; the McCoys returned home grumbling 
and threatening. 

Fists and rocks now gave place to the rifle and 
repeated long-range shooting matches occurred 
between the factions. When meeting in the 
forests, they treed and fought for hours with their 
old-fashioned muzzle-loaders and cap and ball 
pistols, without any appreciable result. 

In 1880 occurred the first battle in which blood 
was drawn. It happened about a mile below the 
Hatfield tunnel, between Bill Stayton, Paris and 
Sam McCoy. They had met by accident. Stay- 
ton rightly guessed that the boys would show 
him no mercy after the many injuries and insults 
they had received at his hands. Instantly he 
leaped behind a bush, broke off the top of it, 
rested his gun in the fork of two limbs, took care- 
ful aim and fired. Paris McCoy fell heavily to 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 35 

the ground. Although severely wounded in the 
hip he managed to regain his feet and shot Stay- 
ton in the breast. The two then came together 
in a fierce hand to hand combat. Having thrown 
down their empty and useless rifles they fought 
with their hands and teeth, ferocious as wild ani- 
mals. Paris' cheek was frightfully bitten and 
lacerated. Weakened from loss of blood and 
suffering excruciating pain from his wounds, he 
was about to succumb to the superior strength of 
his powerful adversary, when Sam McCoy, 
armed with a pistol, came to his rescue. He had 
been afraid to fire while the men were locked in 
their deadly embrace. Now came the opportunity 
and he sent a ball crashing through the brain of 
Stayton, who fell back and instantly expired. 
The body was found some days later. 

Suspicion at once pointed to the two McCoy 
brothers. Paris promptly surrendered himself to 
the authorities, and was given an examining trial 
before Magistrate Valentine ( Val) Hatfield, who 
released him from custody. Sam McCoy fled to 
the hills, but after eluding the officers for a month 
or more was captured by Elias Hatfield, indicted 
by the grand jury of his county, tried and 

In the summer of 1882 it happened that a rela- 
tive and friend of both factions ran for office in 

36 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

Pike County. The clans met on election day, 
August 7th, to work for their man. 

It was the custom then, as well as now, al- 
though the law has placed serious restrictions 
upon the practice, to supply voters with copious 
quantities of whiskey. A candidate who failed 
to do his duty in this respect was certain to lose 
many votes, if not the chance of election. 

On the occasion in question " moonshine " 
liquor was plentiful. Both the Hatfields and Mc- 
Coys and their adherents imbibed freely and dur- 
ing the day grew boisterous and belligerent. The 
immediate occasion for beginning a fight was 
furnished when Tolbert McCoy approached Elias 
Hatfield, commonly known as " Bad Lias," and 
demanded payment of an old debt. A quarrel 
ensued and the fight was on. " Bad Lias " got 
the worst of it. 

The fight had attracted the attention of the 
friends and kindred of both men. Officers at- 
tempted to separate them without avail. Then 
" Big " Ellison Hatfield took a hand. Enraged 
and on fire with copious drinks of whiskey, he 
challenged the victorious Tolbert McCoy to fight 
a man of his size. Hatfield was a powerful man. 
Straight as an arrow, he stood six feet six in his 
stocking feet, and weighed considerably over two 
hundred pounds. .The fight now went against 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 37 

McCoy from the start. He resorted to his knife 
and during the struggle stabbed Hatfield repeat- 
edly and with frightful effect. Again and again 
he plunged the cold steel into the body of his ad- 
versary. Though horribly slashed and losing 
much blood, Hatfield yet retained strength. 
With a final effort he threw McCoy upon the 
ground, sat upon him, seized a large jagged stone, 
raised it on high to strike the fatal blow, when 
Phamer McCoy, who had been patiently waiting 
for the opportunity, fatally shot Hatfield with a 

It was also charged by the Hatfields that Ran- 
dolph McCoy, Jr., a youth of fifteen, had stabbed 
Hatfield once or twice. 

As soon as Phamer McCoy saw the effect of 
his shot he dropped the weapon and sought safety 
in flight. He was pursued by Constable Floyd 
Hatfield and captured. Tolbert and young Ran- 
dolph were also immediately arrested. The 
wounded Hatfield was removed to the house of 
one of his kinsmen. 

The prisoners remained on the election ground 
under heavy guard, for some two hours. Then 
they were taken to the house of Johns Hatfield for 
the night. Tolbert Hatfield and Joseph Hatfield, 
two justices of the peace of Pike County, Ken- 
tucky, Mathew, Floyd and other Hatfields had 

38 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

charge of the prisoners. The father of the three, 
old Randolph McCoy, remained with them 
through the night. 

Early on the following morning the officers 
proceeded with their charges on the road to Pike- 
ville, the county seat. Scarcely had they traveled 
half a mile, when they were overtaken by Val 
Hatfield, the West Virginia justice of the peace, 
and "Bad Lias" Hatfield, brothers of the 
wounded Ellison. They demanded of the offi- 
cers that they return with their prisoners into 
the magisterial district in which the fight had 
occurred to await the result of Ellison Hatfield's 
wounds. The officers complied with the demand, 
Randolph McCoy, Sr., remonstrated, but was 
laughed at for his pains. He then started alone 
to Pikevillc for the purpose of consulting with 
the authorities there. That was the last time he 
saw hir. three sons alive. 

After bein^ turned back by Val and Bad Lias 
Hatfield the: prisoners were taken down the creek. 
At an olc housu there was a co.n sled. Val di- 
rected tho three brothers placed in it, and in that 
manner they were conveyed to Jerry Hatfield's 
house. Here Charles Carpenter, who, together 
with Devil Anse -nd Cap Hatfield, Alex Me :^r, 
the three Mayhorn brothers, and a number of 
other outlaws, had joined Val Hatfield and the 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 39 

other officers at tlie old house, procured ropes and 
securely trussed and bound the prisoners. In this 
condition they remained until they were mur- 

At noon the crowd stopped at the Reverend 
Anderson Hatfield's for dinner. After the meal 
was over, Devil Anse stepped into the yard and 
there cried out : " All who are friends of Hat- 
field fall into line." Most of those present did 
so from inclination or through fear. 

From there the prisoners were taken to the 
river and across into West Virginia to an old, 
dilapidated schoolhouse. Here they lay, tied, 
upon the filthy floor. 

Heavily armed guards at all times stood senti- 
nel over the doomed brothers. Cap and Johns 
Hatfield, Devil Anse and his two brothers, Elias 
and Val Hatfield, Charles Carpenter, Joseph 
Murphy, Dock Mayhorn, Plyant Mayhorn, Sel- 
kirk McCoy and his two sons, Albert and L. D., 
Lark and Anderson Varney, Dan Whitt, Sam 
Mayhorn, Alex Messer, John Whitt, Elijah 
Mounts and many others remained at or about 
the schoolhouse, awaiting news from the bed- 
side of Ellison. Hatfield. 

Along toward night arrived the mother of the 
unfortunate prisoners, and the wife of Tolbert 
McCoy, to plead with the jailers for the lives of 

40 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

the sons and husband. The pleadings of the 
grief-stricken women fell upon deaf ears; they 
had no other effect upon these hearts of stone 
than rough admonitions from Val Hatfield and 
others to " shut up, stop that damned noise, we 
won't have no more of it." 

Night had fallen. The women were told to 
leave and thrust from the house into the inky 
darkness. It had been raining hard and the creeks 
were swollen. Wading streams, drenched to the 
skin, the miserable women felt their way through 
the dark, stumbling and falling along the road, or 
trail. Along about midnight they arrived at Dock 
Rutherford's house. Bruised, shivering, ill and 
shaking from exposure, fatigue, grief and terror, 
they could travel no further, and were taken in 
for the night. 

Morning came and again they hastened to the 
improvised prison of their loved ones. There 
they were viciously taunted with the uselessness 
of their endeavor to obtain mercy. They were 
told that if Ellison Hatfield died of his wounds, 
" the prisoners will be filled as full of holes as a 
sifter bottom." 

Along about two o'clock Val Hatfield curtly 
commanded Mrs. McCoy to leave the house and 
to return no more. She pressed for the reason 
of this order and was told that her husband, 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 41 

Randolph, was known to be at that moment at- 
tempting to assemble a crowd to rescue his sons. 
"Of course, you know," sneered the heartless 
wretch, "if we are interfered with in the least, 
them boys of yours will be the first to die." 

Mrs. McCoy denied the truth of the report, but 
her protestations were in vain. The two women 
saw themselves compelled to abandon the utterly 
useless struggle to save their loved ones and de- 
parted. It was the last time they saw them alive. 

All along throughout their confinement the 
brothers had shown a brave spirit. Now they 
lost all hope of rescue as from hour to hour the 
band of enemies increased until a small army had 

Through the open door they saw them sitting 
or standing in groups. Some were idly playing 
cards; others singing ribald songs or church 
hymns, whichever struck their fancy; all of them 
were drinking heavily. They heard an animated 
discussion as to the manner of death they should 
be made to suffer in the event of Ellison Hatfield's 
death. Some had suggested hanging; then one 
proposed that they make it a shooting match, 
with live human beings for a target. The idea 
was adopted by acclamation. 

Along in the afternoon of the gth of August, 
the third day since the wounding of Ellison Hat- 

42 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

field, the assembled band was suddenly startled 
and every man brought to his feet by the sounds 
of a galloping horse. Instinctively they realized 
they were about to have news of Ellison Hat- 
field. The stir among their guards had aroused 
the attention of the prisoners. They easily 
guessed its portent. It was not necessary to tell 
them that Ellison Hatfield was dead. His corpse 
had been brought to the home of Elias Hatfield, 
who, together with a number of others that had 
been waiting at the bedside of the dying man, 
now augmented the Hatfield forces at the old 

A mock trial was had and sentence of death 
passed upon the three McCoy brothers. These 
helpless, hopeless creatures, tied to one another 
like cattle about to be delivered to the slaughter- 
house, were now jeered, joked and mocked. 
They were not told yet when they must die, nor 
where. To keep them in uncertainty would only 
increase their suffering and that uncertainty lasted 
to the end. 

It is nine o'clock at night. They are taken to 
the river, placed on a flat boat and conveyed to 
the Kentucky side. Within 125 yards of the 
road, in a kind of sink or depression, the three 
doomed brothers are tied to pawpaw bushes. 

Around them stands the throng of bloodthirsty 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 43 

white savages, reared in the midst of a Chris- 
tian country, and from which every year go mis- 
sionaries and fortunes in money to foreign lands 
to make man better and rescue him from sav- 
agery. But somehow this region had been over- 
looked. Not one voice is raised in pity or favor 
of the victims, an unfortunate man, a youth and 
a child. 

The monsters dance about them in imitation 
of the Indian. They throw guns suddenly into 
their faces and howl in derision when the thus 
threatened prisoner dodges as much as the bonds 
which hold him will permit. 

Alex Messer now approaches closely to Phamer 
McCoy and deliberately fires six shots into dif- 
ferent parts of his body. This is not an act of 
mercy, to end the man's suffering. No, he has 
taken care to avoid the infliction of any instantly 
fatal wound. Messer steps back, views the flow- 
ing blood and pain-distorted face and laughs. 

Ellison Mount, supposedly the most savage of 
them all, now proves more merciful. He carries 
a long-barreled, old-fashioned hunting rifle; he 
throws it to his shoulder, takes careful aim, and 
blows out the brains of Tolbert McCoy who, im- 
mediately before the shot fired, had thrown his 
arm to protect the face. The bullet penetrated 
through the arm into the head. 

44 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

Only the little boy, Randolph McCoy, Jr., is 
left unharmed, as yet. Will they spare him? 
Some favor his release, one or two demand it. 
But this idea is hooted down upon the ground 
that he is as guilty as the others, and even if he 
were not, now that he knew the assassins of his 
brothers, it would be utter folly to leave such a 
dangerous witness alive to tell the story. " Dead 
men tell no tales/' cries one of the heartless 
wretches, and impatient of the useless delay, ap- 
proaches the boy and with a double charge of 
buckshot blows off his head. 

The entire band then fires a farewell volley 
into the bodies of the dead. 

We said " the entire band." This is not cor- 
rect. For one of the Hatfields had remained on 
the other side of the river. " The Bible condemns 
murder/' he had said. But this good man volun- 
teered to stand guard and prevent any interfer- 
ence or interruption of the butchery. 

The foul deed accomplished, the murderers re- 
crossed the river and entered West Virginia. 
Then Val Hatfield, the justice of the peace, this 
officer of the law, with solemn formality admin- 
istered to the murderers the oath never to betray 
the name of a member of the band even should 
death stare him in the face. What is an oath to 
such depraved creatures? There, standing on the 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 45 

banks of the river, surrounded by that throng 
of midnight assassins, in sight of the spot that 
bore the frightful evidences of the dastardly 
work, Val Hatfield commanded them to raise 
their bloody hands to heaven. Each and all 
solemnly swore to stand by each other, never to 
reveal the secret of that night's work, asking God 
to witness their oath. What supreme blasphemy ! 

After their return to West Virginia, parties 
who saw them and noted they were without the 
prisoners, asked what had become of them. Val 
Hatfield replied with a smile that they had " sent 
them back to Kentucky to stand the civil law." 

As soon as the assassination became known, the 
brothers and relatives of the dead untied the torn 
and mangled bodies, placed them in a sled and 
conveyed them to their home. 

Have we exaggerated in the telling of this 
story? Let us see. Years afterwards some of 
the assassins were brought to trial. During the 
hearing of the case against Val Hatfield, the West 
Virginia justice of the peace, Mrs. Sarah McCoy, 
the mother of the slain brothers, testified : 

" I am the mother of Phamer, Tolbert and 
young Randolph McCoy. They are dead. They 
were killed on the night of August Qth, 1882. I 
saw them on the Monday before that, at Floyd 
Hatfield's, while they were under arrest. The 

46 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

next time I saw them was over on Mate Creek, 
in Logan County, West Virginia, at a school- 
house. When I got there, Val Hatfield was sit- 
ting by them with a shotgun across his lap. I 
was talking, praying and crying for my boys. 
While over at the mouth of Mate Creek I heard 
Val Hatfield say that if Ellison Hatfield died, he 
would shoot the boys full of holes. Tolbert was 
shot twice in the head and three or four times 
in the body. Phamer was shot in the head and 
ten or eleven times in the body, maybe more. 
The top of one side of the little boy's head was 
shot off. He was down on his knees, hanging 
to the bushes when they found him. Tolbert had 
one arm over his face. Tolbert was 31, Phamer 
19 and Randall 15 years old. They were hauled 
home on a sled and buried in one coffin. 

" When Val Hatfield was sitting by them with 
a double barreled shotgun in his lap, the boys 
were lying on something on the floor, tied to- 
gether with a rope. I fell on my knees and began 
praying and begging and crying for my children. 
Some one said there was no use of that, to shut 
up. Then some one came in and said that my 
husband was on the way with a large party to 
rescue his sons. I told them that there was noth- 
ing of it. They said for us to leave. Tolbert's 
wife was with me. They said that if they were 
interfered with my boys would be the first to 
die." * 

* Records Pike Circuit Court, Commonwealth versus Val 
Hatfield, etc., opinion of Court of Appeals, No. 9, 1889. 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 47 

The day following the murder the coroner of 
the district, also a Hatfield, held an inquest in 
which the jury reported a verdict to the effect 
that the three McCoy brothers had been shot and 
killed at the hands of persons unknown. 

In affairs of this kind, where many men are 
engaged, men whose acts prove them without 
honor, without respect for law, man or God, truth 
comes to light in spite of oaths to reveal nothing. 
The parties had been seen with their prisoners by 
many people and had been seen returning to West 
Virginia without them. Neighbors heard the 
shots fired; saw the band of cutthroats, armed 
to the teeth, led by the brothers of Ellison Hat- 
field, the dead man. Aside from that, Mrs. Mc- 
Coy and Tolbert McCoy's wife had recognized 
and knew personally all of the men that guarded 
the boys at the schoolhouse. They had heard 
the threats repeated time and again that if Elli- 
son Hatfield died, the boys would be murdered. 
The officers who had at first arrested them and 
taken charge of them, testified that at the house 
of the Reverend Hatfield's the boys were tied, 
and that then they, the officers, were informed by 
Devil Anse, Val and Cap Hatfield, to " vamoose." 
Twenty-three of the Hatfield clan were indicted 
in the Pike Circuit Court (Kentucky), each one 
charged with three murders. The indictments 

48 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

were returned into Court on the I4th day of Sep- 
tember, 1882, but none of them was tried until 
seven years later. 

Although heavy rewards were offered for the 
apprehension of the murderers, not until years 
after the crime was it that an actor stepped upon 
the scene whose intrepidity and shrewdness finally 
led to the undoing of many of the murder clan. 
However, through the law's delay, many other 
horrible outrages followed this one, and many 
lives were lost before an end was put to blood- 

Much speculation was indulged in, after the 
assassination of August 9th, why old man Ran- 
dolph McCoy had made no attempt to rescue his 
sons. The explanation is simple. When he left 
them on the morning following the fight they 
were in charge of Kentucky officers and guarded. 
When turned back by Val and Elias Hatfield, he 
was told by these men that the boys should have 
an examining trial in the magisterial district in 
which the fight had taken place, that the wit- 
nesses for both the State and the defence would 
be more easily accessible there than if the trial 
were had at Pikeville many miles away. At the 
county seat McCoy conferred with lawyers and 
engaged them in the defence of his sons for the 
killing of Ellison Hatfield, should he die. He 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 49 

could not believe that Val Hatfield, a sworn offi- 
cer of the law, would so far forget and violate 
his solemn oath of office so to condone or aid 
or to participate in such a wholesale butchery. 
Aside from this, the arresting officers, also Hat- 
fields, would see to the safety of the prisoners, 
as it was their duty to do. He feared, too, that 
interference might endanger the safety of the 
sons and thought it best to remain passive. He 
placed his trust in the law. We have seen the 

After the indictment of the Hatfields they 
maintained their armed organization under the 
leadership of Devil Anse and " Cap," his son. 
Devil Anse was a man of fine physique, tall and 
muscular, as were his sons, Johns and Cap. Ran- 
dolph McCoy described Cap as " six feet of devil 
and 1 80 pounds of hell ! " Neither of these men 
suggested the outlaw and the desperado. All of 
them possessed regular features, but the strong 
jaws, the rectilinear foreheads with angular, 
knotty protuberances denoted according to the 
physiognomist firm, harsh, oppressive activity. 
In their intercourse with friends they exhibited a 
jovial disposition and their eyes beamed kindly. 
But once aroused to anger there took place an 
instant metamorphosis. At such times Anse Hat- 
field justified the sobriquet " Devil " Anse. Then 

5O Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

the glittering eyes told of the fires of rage and 
hate within, the veins in his forehead bulged and 
knotted and corrugated; the quivering lips, thin 
and straight, bespoke the cruelty of which he was 
capable of inflicting upon all who dared oppose 
him or his. His whole countenance at such times 
impressed one with awe and fear. It had that 
effect upon strangers ignorant of his record of 
blood. And like father like sons. 

Old man Randolph McCoy, at the time of the 
murder of his three sons, was sixty-three years 
old. He was by no means a strong man. His 
features wore a kindly expression. He was quiet 
in his talk, and one of the most hospitable citizens 
of Pike County. That he was brave, when ne- 
cessity demanded it he had demonstrated on many 
occasions. But he was not, and never had been 
a bully, nor was he bloodthirsty. He made all 
possible efforts to effect the capture of his sons' 
assassins and sought to punish them through the 
law. His efforts in this direction exasperated the 
Hatfields still more. Not satisfied now with 
eluding the officers, they assumed the offensive, 
invaded Pike County in force at any time they 
saw fit, harassed the McCoy family in every pos- 
sible manner with the evident intention of even- 
tually driving them out of the country, and to 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 51 

thus remove the main spring of the prosecution 
against them in the Pike County courts. 

Finding themselves baffled in this purpose, the 
death of the old man was decreed. In the month 
of June, 1884, the murder was scheduled to take 

McCoy had been summoned to appear in court 
at Pikeville in some case. Of this fact the Hat- 
fields had prompt information, for even in the 
county seat they had their spies and supporters. 
Knowing well the route the old man must take 
to reach Pikeville, an ambush was prepared at a 
suitable spot. 

A mistake saved the old man's life. Two of 
McCoy's neighbors, also witnesses at court, 
started for town on the same day. They were 
clad almost precisely as were Randolph McCoy 
and his accompanying son Calvin. Accident be- 
lated the McCoys and so they rode far to the 
rear of their neighbors who, on approaching the 
ambush at nightfall, were fired upon. In the 
fusilade both men were wounded, one of them 
crippled for life. Their horses were shot dead 
on the spot. 

The assassins, confident that the hated old man 
McCoy was no more, returned to West Virginia, 
jubilant and rejoicing, celebrating the supposed 
death with a grand spree. We may imagine their 

52 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

chagrin and disappointment on discovery of the 
mistake and the consequent escape of the hated 
enemy. Discouragement, however, was a word 
not included in their vocabulary. Failure only 
spurred them to renewed and greater efforts. 

In 1886 the feud branched off. One Jeff Mc- 
Coy, brother of the wife of Johns Hatfield, was 
accused of murdering Fred Walford, a mail 
carrier. Finding the officers hot on his trail in 
Kentucky he fled, and sought safety in West Vir- 
ginia, at the home of his brother-in-law. Hat- 
field, formerly an active member of the murder 
clan, had, however, of late ceased to participate in 
their lawless raids. Although he had not for- 
gotten his hatred of the McCoys, for his wife's 
sake he sheltered her fugitive brother. 

Near Johns Hatfield lived Cap Hatfield, who 
had in his employ one Wallace. Jeff McCoy had 
been at the home of his brother-in-law but a short 
time when he became aware of the presence of 
Wallace at the farm of Cap Hatfield's. Trouble 
started at once. 

As we have seen, attempts upon the life of old 
man McCoy had thus far proved abortive. 
Somehow, all the best-laid plans of the Hatfields 
had miscarried. Suspicion grew that there must 
be a traitor in their camp, and this became more 
strong as time rolled on, with the result that the 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 53 

wife and mother of one Daniels were accused of 
furnishing information to the McCoys. One 
night, while Daniels was absent from home, the 
house was surrounded, the door broken open and 
the two women were cruelly beaten. Mrs. Daniels 
subsequently died from her injuries; the old lady 
was rendered a cripple for life. 

Daniels' wife was a sister of Jeff McCoy, who 
had somehow secured information sufficient to 
regard Wallace as the instigator and leader of 
the outrage. He hunted for him high and low, 
but had lost all trace of him until, to his great 
joy, he discovered his whereabouts at the home 
of Cap Hatfield. 

On November ijth, 1886, accompanied by a 
friend, he went in search of Wallace. Cap Hat- 
field was absent; his wife lay ill in bed. When 
McCoy approached the house Wallace was busily 
at work in the yard. He was called upon to sur- 
render. On looking up he saw himself covered 
by two guns. McCoy pretended to arrest him 
for the purpose of taking him to Pikeville for 
trial of the indictments returned against the as- 
sailant of the Daniels women. Wallace, how- 
ever, readily surmised the true intention of his 
captors. He expected no mercy at the hands of 
the man who believed and knew him to be guilty 
of beating the sister to death, and attempted es- 

54 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

cape. On the first opportunity, while the vigi- 
lance of his captors had momentarily relaxed, he 
started to run, but was shot down, although not 
seriously wounded. He gained the house, barri- 
caded the door, and through the window opened 
fire upon McCoy and his associate. These re- 
turned the fire, shot after shot they drove through 
the windows and door, for, at this time, the heavy 
repeating Winchester rifle had come into general 
use. While other modern inventions found no 
market there, the most improved guns and pistols 
might have been found in homes that had not 
learned the use of a cook stove. 

The fusilade continued for some time, but Wal- 
lace, in his fort of log walls, drove the enemies 
from the field. 

Immediately upon Cap Hatfield's return Wal- 
lace was told to swear out a warrant against Jeff 
McCoy and his companion Hurley. The papers 
were taken in hand by Cap Hatfield, who had 
secured the appointment of special constable. He 
was not long finding the men. With his ac- 
customed coolness he covered them with his guns, 
ordered Hurley to throw his weapon on the 
ground and to disarm McCoy. This capture of 
two armed and dangerous men single-handed 
proved the daring of Hatfield. He started for 
Logan Court House, W. Va., with his prisoners. 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 55 

On the way he was joined by Wallace, doubtless 
by previous appointment. Together they pro- 
ceeded to Thacker, a small village on the way. 
There a short halt was made, and the prisoners 
were left to themselves. This opportunity Mc- 
Coy used to cut the thongs that tied his hands by 
means of a knife held between his teeth. As soon 
as his hands were free he started on a run for the 
Kentucky side. He reached the Tug Fork, 
plunged into the stream and swam for life. But 
his captors were marksmen. He had reached 
the bank of the river on the opposite side and was 
climbing the steep slope, when a well-directed 
shot from Cap's gun tore through his heart and 
he fell dead upon his face. 

It was common knowledge that the opportunity 
to escape had been given him deliberately. Hat- 
field and Wallace enjoyed to the full the fruitless 
effort to escape death. It was sport, nothing 

Hurley, strange to say, was liberated. Wal- 
lace escaped, but in the following spring was 
captured by two of Jeff McCoy's brothers, Dud 
and Jake, and delivered to the jailer of Pike. 
Before trial he broke jail and returned to Cap 
Hatfield, who supplied him liberally with money 
and a mount to aid his escape. 

For some time thereafter all trace of him was 

56 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

lost. At last he was heard of in Virginia. Un- 
willing to turn his hands to honest labor, he had 
engaged in the illicit sale of whiskey. For this 
he was arrested and fined. In this wise his name 
became public and in the course of time his 
whereabouts became known back in Kentucky. 
Jeff McCoy's brothers offered a reward for his 
capture and two men started upon the trail of the 
much desired fugitive. Within a short time they 
returned to Kentucky and claimed the reward. 
Where was the prisoner ? The answer was given 
by the exhibition of a bloody lock of hair the 
reward was paid. 

Came the year 1887. Still not one of the 
twenty-three murderers of the three McCoy 
brothers had been apprehended, although they 
were frequently seen on the Kentucky side. At- 
tempts to take them had been made from time 
to time, but the officers always found them in 
such numbers and so perfectly armed that an at- 
tempt to force their arrest would have resulted 
in much bloodshed without accomplishing the ar- 

Then Governor Proctor Knott of Kentucky 
took a hand and offered tempting rewards. His 
successor, General Simon Bolivar Buckner, re- 
newed them, and issued requisitions for the 
twenty-three murderers upon the governor of 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 57 

West Virginia, appointing as agent one Frank 
Phillips to receive the prisoners. 

Weeks passed and no attempt was made on 
the part of the West Virginia officers to execute 
the warrants for these men so badly wanted in 
Kentucky, and, to the utter surprise and indig- 
nation of Governor Buckner, the West Virginia 
Executive, Governor Wilson, refused to honor 
the requisitions, assigning various reasons and 
excuses for his non-action. 

Governor Buckner, the old " warhorse," as his 
friends and comrades-in-arms in the Civil War 
affectionately dubbed him, took the West Vir- 
ginia governor to task for his lack of coopera- 
tion in the apprehension of the murderers. An 
exceedingly salty correspondence followed. The 
controversy grew so bitter that, for a time, a 
declaration of war between the two States would 
have surprised no one. And while the governors 
fought each other on paper, the murder mill 
ground on uninterrupted, the bloody warfare con- 
tinued without molestation. 

Now enters upon the scene Frank Phillips, 
Governor Buckner' s Kentucky agent, to receive 
the persons named in the requisition upon the 
Governor of West Virginia. He was a deputy 
sheriff. Though of slight stature, he was as brave 
a little man as ever trod the soil of Kentucky, 

58 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

so noted for her brave sons. He was rapid as 
lightning, and would have made an ideal quarter- 
back for any college football team. With all his 
bravery he was cautious, circumspect and shrewd. 
A terror to evil-doers, he was the general favorite 
throughout Pike County among the law-abiding 

An incident which occurred during the summer 
of 1887, illustrates the utter fearlessness of the 
little, keen-eyed deputy sheriff. Warrants for 
the murderers of the three McCoy brothers had 
been issued upon the indictments repeatedly and 
as often returned by the sheriff " not found," 
notwithstanding the presence of the fugitives on 
the Kentucky side on various occasions was com- 
mon knowledge. Having so long remained un- 
molested, the Hatfields grew bold, and in 1887, 
took great interest in the Pike County election. 
Such was their contempt of the officers that as 
election day approached, the sheriff of Pike 
County was notified to instruct his deputies, that 
had warrants against them, to be certain and stay 
away from the voting precinct at which they, the 
Hatfields, would appear on election days, or, if 
the officers should attend, to leave the bench war- 
rants for their arrest behind. 

The election following the appointment of 
Frank Phillips as a deputy was one of deep in- 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 59 

terest tc the Hatfields. Desiring to attend it, they 
sent word to Phillips to remain away, or to come 
unarmed and without warrants. He was threat- 
ened with sure death if he violated these injunc- 
tions. Frank, however, was cast in a different 
mold from that of his predecessors. He replied, 
in writing, that business demanded his presence 
at that election precinct on election day; that he 
would be there; that he would bring along the 
bench warrants, would come fully armed and 
that he intended to either take or kill them. 

The Hatfields were amazed at the nerve of the 
man, but finally came to regard it as an idle 
boast. True to his word, Phillips went to the 
election ground. The Hatfields approached within 
gunshot distance and fired a volley through the 
brush and bushes, stampeding all but some eight 
or ten persons. The plucky little deputy sheriff 
remained till late in the afternoon, but the Hat- 
fields withdrew. Inspiring example of what a 
brave, determined officer may do and it proves 
that with all their contempt for law and order 
deep down in the hearts of outlaws there is the 
fear of retribution and punishment. The little 
man had called their bluff because he had right 
on his side, and the nerve to contend for that 
right, and wherever there is a genuine determina- 
tion to put an end to outlawry, it can be done, it 

6o Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

matters not how desperate and vicious the out- 
laws may be. 

Late in the fall of the same year Phillips, with 
three other men, crossed over into Logan County, 
W. Va., to receive the prisoners who had been 
arrested, as he supposed, on warrants issued by 
Governor Wilson after the issuance of the Ken- 
tucky governor's requisitions. 

After crossing the line between the two States 
he, for the first time, learned that no warrants had 
ever been issued, at least that no arrests had been 
made or even attempted. Then something hap- 
pened. He and his men suddenly came upon Sel- 
kirk McCoy, Tom Chambers and Mose Christian, 
three of the murder clan that slew the McCoy 
brothers, and who were included in the requisi- 
tions. The opportunity to nab them was too good 
to resist the temptation to capture them, even 
without warrants, and it was done. He hurried 
them back and across the line into Kentucky, 
served them with Kentucky bench warrants and 
delivered them to the jailer at Pikeville. 

The rage of the Hatfields over this " unlaw- 
ful " arrest knew no bounds. It was an outrage, 
and a shameful violation of the law, they cried. 
They sought an outlet for their pent-up indigna- 
tion and decided to make another attempt upon 
the life of old man McCoy. 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 61 

For this purpose the leaders selected the most 
dangerous and desperate members of the clan. 

At midnight, January 1st, 1888, this band of 
desperadoes, led by Cap Hatfield, heartless cut- 
throats all, surrounded the house of Randolph 
McCoy. On New Year, when every man and 
woman in the land should reflect regretfully upon 
the many follies and errors committed during the 
year gone by and good resolutions should fill 
every heart, on New Year's night this outlaw 
band prepared to and did inaugurate another year 
of bloodshed and of horror. 

Silently, with the stealth of Indians, the phan- 
tom shadows moved about the doomed home- 
stead. They were in no hurry. It was far from 
their intention to break into the house and with a 
few well-directed shots put an end to the old 
man whom they had sworn to destroy. No! 
Such a death would have been too quick and pain- 
less. He must burn; they must maim and tor- 
ture. What mattered it that women were in the 
house. " They will serve him for company," 
chuckled the heartless Jim Vance. They must 
first be made to feel the impossibility of escape; 
to entertain their tormentors with their distress 
and horror. They must furnish sport, the sport 
the savages so much delighted in. 

Within all was quiet. The inmates were all 

62 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

wrapped in slumber, utterly unconscious of the 
fate that was in store for them. Without, 
through the gloom of the cold January night, 
shadows flitted to and fro, busily attending to 
their hellish work. 

The McCoy homestead was a double log house, 
separating the two houses was a wide passage, 
and all under one roof. On one side of the build- 
ing a match is struck. The next moment a pine 
torch casts a lurid glare into the darkness. The 
hand that holds it reaches upward and touches the 
low board roof. It sets it on fire in a dozen 
places. The family is suddenly awakened by the 
yells of exultation from the savages without. 
Shots pour into the houses through doors and 
windows. Calvin McCoy, the son, who slept up- 
stairs, dresses hurriedly, grasps his rifle and car- 
tridges and descends to the lower floor. He ap- 
proaches the bed of his terror-stricken, aged 
mother, pats her gently on her cheek, cautions 
her to lie still, telling her to fear not, though in 
his heart he has no hope. He returns to his room 
and opens fire upon the outlaws. 

His father, cool and undaunted, fights the 
flames devouring the roof from the loft. The 
water becomes exhausted. He resorts to butter- 
milk, of which there happened to be large quan- 
tities in churns. The fire is about conquered. An 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 63 

outlaw hand reaches up to rekindle it with an- 
other torch. Randolph McCoy takes up his gun, 
aims and shatters the hand that holds it. A curse 
and loud imprecations come to his ears, and tell 
him that the shot went true. 

In the room across the passage between the two 
houses slept the rest of the family, two daughters 
and two grandchildren. The unmarried daugh- 
ter, Alii fair, frightened and dazed, hears a knock 
at the door and opens it. She is requested to 
make a light. She replies that she has neither fire 
nor matches. The command is repeated; again 
she refuses to comply. Jim Vance, Sr., the grey- 
haired outlaw, commands Ellison Mount to shoot 
her. She prays for them to spare her, but their 
hearts were strangers to pity. Mount fires point- 
blank at her breast and she falls to the floor with 
a cry. 

The mother from her own room across the 
passage hears the expiring scream of her child, 
the dull thud upon the floor. Oh, the horror of 
it! Surrounded on every hand by devils in hu- 
man shape; the house on fire over their heads; 
the husband and son fighting heroically, but only 
prolonging the useless, inevitably useless struggle ; 
in the other room lies the body of Allifair. She 
hears the others screaming for help. Will she 
dare to go to them ? Yes. A true mother's love 

64 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

fears no dangers. Where men shrink back in 
fear and terror a mother will rush into the jaws 
of death to defend and save her offspring. She 
opens the door wide and is greeted with bullets. 
She cares nothing for their vicious hiss. She 
goes on. Already she has crossed half the space 
that separates her from her children, when she is 
confronted by the wretch Vance. He orders her 
to return to her room. Upon her refusal he 
strikes blow upon blow with the butt of his gun 
upon the head and body of the grey-haired wo- 
man and frenzied mother. She falls badly in- 
jured upon the floor. He kicks her into merciful 

In the meantime, Calvin and his father had 
maintained a spirited fire upon the assassins that 
encircled the house. But the flames roar and feed 
unchecked. The smoke prevents good aim. Cal- 
vin is driven down-stairs by the heat and flames 
and acrid smoke. He suggests to his father to 
attempt a sortie. He remembers the corn-crib, a 
heavy log structure. He would attempt to reach 
it. Once there he might cover his father's retreat 
thither. Once there, they might yet drive their 
assailants off. 

He opens the door and starts on his perilous 
journey, running with the swiftness of the deer 
to get beyond the betraying circle of light from 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 65 

the now fiercely burning homestead. He is seen 
and instantly shot at. Unharmed by this volley, 
he runs as he has never run before. The balls 
whistle above him, around him, and plow the dirt 
at his feet. Already he has covered more than 
half the distance, now three-quarters of it. Yet 
he is untouched. He is within three or four feet 
of the little house he strives so manfully to reach. 
At the threshold of the refuge he throws up his 
hands, staggers, sinks to his knees, rises to his 
feet again, then plunges heavily down upon the 
frozen ground, dead. 

After his son's fatal attempt to escape, old man 
McCoy grasped a double-barreled shotgun, sprang 
from the door, discharged both barrels with tell- 
ing effect into the gathered clan, and before they 
could realize what was happening their intended 
victim had disappeared in the darkness beyond the 
firelight, a darkness intensified by the glare of 
the flames, making aim impossible. Not a shot 
of the many vicious volleys that were fired after 
him touched him. Providence had once more de- 
creed to spare the old man. But at what cost! 

Finding that the main object of their hatred 
and vengeance had again been baffled, the assas- 
sins withdrew, leaving behind them their work 
of destruction, the burning home of Randolph 
McCoy; the old mother groaning, unconscious 

66 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

and dangerously wounded on the ground; the 
daughter Alii fair lying in a pool of blood; the 
son Calvin dead at the corn-crib; the remaining 
children crazed with terror and sorrow. 

The house was rapidly burning to the ground, 
Before the murderers withdrew, they had care- 
fully closed the doors and window-shutters with 
the avowed purpose of cremating the entire fam- 
ily yet in the house. The insensible mother they 
had dragged back into one of the rooms, that she, 
too, might perish by fire. 

The sister of Alii fair, immediately upon the 
withdrawal of the cowardly wretches, regained 
her courage and self-possession. She placed the 
body of her dead sister upon a feather bed and 
dragged it from the house. She then returned 
for her mother, whom she also rescued. The 
little grandchild, a boy seven years old, also ex- 
hibited heroism, for one so young, for when he 
ran from the burning home, which then, in fact, 
was momentarily threatening to fall in, he 
thought of his little sister. The little hero braved 
the fire, was swallowed up for a few minutes in 
the smoke, but emerged triumphantly leading the 
little cripple by the hand. Nor did the boy cry 
once, it is said, during that night of horror. The 
daughter ministered to the suffering mother as 
best she could. Barefooted, in the cruel cold of 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 67 

a January night, she gave no thought to herself. 
Her feet were badly frost-bitten. Not until day- 
light came assistance. 

The Hatfields had scored another victory. 
True, the man whose death they craved beyond 
all else, had escaped them, but they had broken 
his spirit. They had murdered, sent to eternity 
two more of his children and terribly injured, 
almost killed, his aged wife. 

The blood of the victims cried out to God. 
This time not in vain, for retribution followed 
swiftly on the heels of the murderers. From this 
night on their star of success was on the wane. 
One by one they were struck down ; one expiated 
his crime upon the gallows; others found oppor- 
tunity and time for reflection on their past deeds 
within the narrow, gloomy cells of the State 

The news of the dastardly, cowardly, savage 
night attack spread like wildfire. Newspaper ac- 
counts of the tragedy were everywhere received 
at first with doubt and considered as the fig- 
ments of imagination of sensation writers. East, 
West, North and South newspapers began to 
make inquiries. It seemed beyond the possibility 
of belief that such horrors could occur in our day 
of enlightenment, in a land which boasts of a 
superior civilization and culture, and arrogates 

68 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

to itself the proud distinction of the " first Chris- 
tion nation in the world." As days passed, the 
story was verified. Its truth might no longer 
be doubted. Then followed a deluge of editorial 
comments. The authorities of Kentucky and 
West Virginia were mercilessly assailed for their 
failure to cope with crimes of such magnitude. 
Yet, even after this last horror, West Virginia 
refused to join hands with Kentucky in deliver- 
ing the criminals to justice. The murderous clan 
continued unmolested and was free to commit 
new crimes, invading Kentucky at will, defying 
the entire legal and governmental machinery of 
that State. They felt secure with the governor 
of their own state apparently taking their part. 

Then Frank Phillips started out to do, on his 
own responsibility, what West Virginia should 
have done. Kentucky had done all that could 
possibly be done to settle and arrange matters 
through the regular channels of law and consti- 
tution. Nothing remained now but to act with- 
out the consent and authority of West Virginia 
and the redoubtable Frank Phillips, chafing at all 
this delay like a restless mustang, decided to act. 

When the news of the night attack and assas- 
sinations of January ist were brought to him, 
he threw all caution to the winds. He formed 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 69 

a band of trusty followers, men that, like him- 
self, would do and dare. 

"If the governor of West Virginia is deter- 
mined to continue the protection of his murderous 
pets, I will protect the citizens of Kentucky, or 
die in the attempt ! " he declared. From that day 
there was no longer rest, peace or safety for the 
Hatfield clan of West Virginia. 

Phillips had a system entirely his own. He 
quickly demonstrated his superiority of cunning 
and courage. 

A few days were spent in equipping and or- 
ganizing his band of raiders. Then swiftly they 
crossed the border into West Virginia and com- 
menced their dangerous operations. Always on 
the move, they struck a rapid blow here and an- 
other there, always dashing upon the enemy at 
unexpected times and places. To describe those 
raids in detail would fill a book and furnish 
thrilling reading. But we shall select only a few 
incidents to illustrate the daring and determina- 
tion of Frank Phillips and his devoted band. 

On January 8th, 1888, Phillips ascended* the 
steep slopes of Thacker mountain. Suddenly 
they came in sight of Cap Hatfield and the brutal, 
but desperately courageous Jim Vance, Sr. Hat- 
field at once saw the uselessness of engaging in 
combat and precipitately fled across the mountain 

70 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

on foot, escaping the bullets that were sent after 
him. Cap continued on his retreat without one 
thought for his pal. At " Hog Floyd " Hatfield's, 
Cap stopped long enough to secure a mount. 
From there he rode, at breakneck speed, without 
bridle or saddle, to the camp of his followers. 

Vance, thus abandoned and alone, stood his 
ground. He opened fire upon the Kentuckians 
without a moment's hesitation. The near pres- 
ence of his enemies infuriated this grey-haired 
man, grown old in bloody crimes, beyond meas- 
ure. But one desire, paramount, possessed him, 
the desire to kill, kill, kill, as long as life remained 
in his aged body. To attempt escape never for a 
moment entered his mind. 

He dropped behind an old tree stump and with 
vengeful eye drove shot after shot into the ranks 
of the astonished raiders, who were forced to take 
cover. Several of them had already been 
wounded. Vance, behind his natural rampart, 
remained unharmed. He laughed aloud, taunted 
his assailants with cowardice, and continued fir- 
ing. His mortal hatred of the men before him 
inspired him to a heroism worthy of a better 
cause. At last a flank movement deprived him of 
the protection afforded him by the stump. His 
body now became exposed to fire from three sides, 
and a Winchester rifle bullet brought him to the 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 71 

ground. As he struggled to rise shot after shot 
penetrated him. Full of lead, wounded unto 
death, the blood streaming from his many 
wounds, he yet attempted to use his pistols. Then 
Phillips stepped forward and approached the dy- 
ing desperado, the man who had given the heart- 
less order to Ellison Mount to shoot the innocent 
Alii fair, the heartless wretch that had pounded 
savagely the aged Mrs. McCoy and had laughed 
and tittered in the doing, the man who had in- 
cited Cap to the burning of the McCoy home and 
of all its inmates. Phillips raised the Winches- 
ter to end the outlaw's life. But the man was 
down. He could not do it. Vance saw his hesi- 
tation. He slowly raised upon his left arm and 
in his dying moments pressed hard upon the 
trigger of his Colt's pistol. Warned by com- 
panions, Phillips saw the motion and sent a ball 
crashing through the outlaw's brain. 

Immediately after Cap Hatfield's arrival at the 
camp of " Devil Anse " the entire available force 
was summoned and divided into detachments. 
Plans were discussed and perfected by which 
Phillips was to be enticed into an ambush and 
annihilated. This force remained under arms for 
many days. 

About ten days after the raid of January 8th, 
which had resulted in the killing of Vance, Phil- 

72 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

lips suddenly appeared on Grapeville Creek, where 
he encountered the Hatfields in force. A severe 
battle immediately developed. 

The Kentuckians outnumbered the West Vir- 
ginia outlaws. The latter, however, were on foot 
and had the advantage of position from the start. 
From it they fired upon Phillips with telling ef- 
fect, killing and wounding many horses with the 
first volley. These, maddened with pain and 
frightened by the sudden fire, reared and plunged 
and threw the column into confusion. The keen 
eyes of Frank Phillips cast about for a spot of 
vantage and discovered a stone fence a few hun- 
dred yards away, affording a strong position. 
With his accustomed quickness of determining an 
action, he prepared to seize it. The command 
was given to dismount all those yet mounted. 
Bending their heads to the bullets, they rushed 
on and over and behind the stone wall. Only one 
of their number had dropped in the essay. An- 
other assisted him to his feet, and all reached the 
wall in safety. 

Now the tables were turned. Volley upon vol- 
ley was fired into the ambushed Hatfields with 
the result that after two hours and fifteen minutes 
of long range fighting the outlaws retreated, tak- 
ing along their many wounded, but leaving Wil- 
liam Dempsey dead on the field. 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 73 

In this battle the Hatfields fought with the best 
rifles that money could procure, heavy calibre 
Colts and Winchester rifles. The Kentuckians 
were armed less perfectly, about half of them 
using rifles and shotguns of the old pattern. 
Phillips and two others, only, fought with re- 
peating rifles. It was due to this superiority in 
armament that the Kentuckians suffered such 
heavy losses in horses and wounded men. 

Among the most severely injured was Bud 
McCoy. Among the Hatfield wounded was Tom 
Mitchell, shot in the side; "Indian" Hatfield, 
wounded in the thigh; Lee White, shot three 
times. Many minor casualties occurred. 

The battle of Grape Vine Creek was the last 
serious fight between the Hatfield outlaws and the 
Kentucky officers, although sporadic killings oc- 
curred at frequent intervals. 

In the several forays made by Frank Phillips 
and his party nine of the outlaws were captured 
and landed in jail at Pikeville. 

In the meantime the quarrel between the two 
governors continued. The correspondence be- 
tween them was exceedingly pithy and acrimo- 
nious. We shall quote one or two letters from 
Governor Buckner of Kentucky to Governor Wil- 
son of West Virginia, which will fully explain 

74 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

the attitudes taken by these two gentlemen in this 



Frankfort, Ky., January 3Oth, 1888. 
'His Excellency, E. W. Wilson, 
Governor of West Virginia. 

On the tenth day of September last, in the dis- 
charge of what I conceived to be my duty as 
Governor of this Commonwealth, I issued a 
requisition upon your Excellency for the rendition 
of Anderson Hatfield and others, charged by in- 
dictment with wilful murder committed in Pike 
County, Kentucky, on the gth day of August, 
1882. On the 3Oth of September, 1887, said 
requisition was returned to me with a letter from 
.your Excellency, calling my attention to a law 
of West Virginia, a copy of which you were kind 
enough to enclose, and which you seemed to 
think prevented a compliance on your part with 
my demand, until it should be accompanied by 
the affidavit indicated in the law above referred 
to. Without then stopping to discuss the correct- 
ness of your construction of the law in question, 
or its validity, even conceding your construction 
to be correct, the desired affidavit having been 
obtained was attached to said requisition, which 
was again enclosed to your Excellency on the 
I3th of October, 1887. 

Having thus complied with every condition 
which your Excellency has indicated that should 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 75 

be necessary, I had every reason to suppose that 
steps had been taken for the rendition of the 
fugitives named, and I knew nothing to the con- 
trary, until early in the present month, when I 
was advised by the authorities of Pike County 
that your Excellency had, for some cause, de- 
clined up to that time, to issue your warrant for 
the arrest and delivery of the parties referred 
to, and that, in addition to the crime for which 
they stood indicted, they had recently perpetrated 
other crimes of the most atrocious character in 
the same locality. 

Accordingly, on the Qth inst., I wrote your 
Excellency, advising you of the information 
which I had received, and requesting to be ad- 
vised whether there was then anything which 
prevented the rendition of the criminals. In re- 
sponse to this letter I received, only a few days 
since, your letter of January 2ist (1888) in 
which you did me the honor to state your reasons 
for not complying with my request, and in which, 
among other things, you say : " and although the 
application for the requisition does not appear to 
be made or supported by any official authority of 
Pike County, etc." 

I confess myself at a loss to understand how 
your Excellency could possibly know anything 
whatever about the character of the application 
made to me for a requisition in this case. I did 
not attach it to the requisition enclosed to your 
Excellency, for the obvious reason that the law 
governing the extradition of fugitives nowhere 
requires it, or in any way intimates that it would 

76 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

even be proper to do so. On the contrary, it 
seems to contemplate, the papers being correct in 
other respects, that the Executive making the de- 
mand, must be the sole Judge of the circumstances 
under which it would be proper for him to issue 
his requisition. I, therefore, had no reason to 
suppose that your Excellency would feel it your 
duty to inquire into this point, especially as you 
had in your first letter, returning the requisition, 
given no such intimation. 

But if your Excellency desires to be advised 
as to that branch of the case, I certainly have no 
objections to telling you that the application for 
the requisition and rewards in this case was made 
by the County Judge of Pike County, indorsed 
by the Judge of the District Court, and urged by 
the Commonwealth's Attorney of the district, 
who was personally present when the application 
was presented. 

In referring to Elias Hatfield and Andrew 
Varney, your Excellency is pleased to say : " The 
many affidavits of reliable persons showing that 
these two men were miles away at the time of 
the killing of the McCoys induced me to with- 
hold, for the present, the warrant as to them, 
believing that when your Excellency was made 
acquainted with the facts their rendition would 
not be demanded." The indictment accompany- 
ing the requisition charges that these two men 
were present and aided in the killing; this being 
so, I respectfully submit that the guilt or inno- 
cence of these men is a question which it is not 
the province of your Excellency or myself to de- 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 77 

tide, but one which the court, having jurisdiction 
of the case can alone rightfully determine. And 
if, as you seem to suppose, the innocence of these 
two men can be so easily established, it would 
seem strange that they have not long before this 
voluntarily appeared in the court where they stand 
accused, and which is so convenient to their 
homes, and in which they might, if such be the 
case, be triumphantly vindicated against this grave 

From my knowledge of the enlightened and 
upright Judge of the court in which they stand 
charged, I feel assured that they would be 
awarded a speedy and fair trial; but if they think 
otherwise, and have fears, either as to the im- 
partiality of the Judge, or as to the prejudice of 
the community in whose midst they are to be 
tried, they can, under our laws, not only swear 
off the Judge, but can, on proper showing, easily 
obtain a change of venue to another county in 
which no prejudice whatever exists. Under these 
circumstances, your Excellency can readily see 
that they would, in any event, have no difficulty 
whatever in obtaining a fair and impartial trial. 

Before receiving your letter I had been fully 
apprised of the efforts on the part of P. A. Kline 
to secure a withdrawal of the requisition and re- 
wards in this case; in fact, the cool proposition 
made to me by the indicted parties through their 
attorney, to the effect that they would obligate 
themselves not to come again into Kentucky, 
provided I would withdraw the requisitions and 
rewards named, was endorsed by Mr. Kline, who 

78 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

had previously shown an active interest in their 
apprehension. But this proposition, I, of course, 
declined to entertain, much less to agree to; and 
even admitting the truth of the affidavit enclosed 
by your Excellency, which charges in terms that 
the friends of the indicted parties succeeded in 
bribing Kline, their former enemy, to urge the 
acceptance of their proposition, I cannot see why 
this should cause your Excellency to hesitate 
about issuing your warrant for the rendition of 
these parties to the proper authorities, upon whose 
application the requisition was issued, and whose 
conduct is not even questioned. Indeed, it seems 
to me that the questionable means which the 
friends of the indicted parties have been employ- 
ing to secure a withdrawal of the requisition and 
rewards of this case ought, of itself, to induce 
your Excellency to regard with suspicion the 
efforts which they seem to be making to prevent 
the issuing of your warrant for their apprehen- 
sion and delivery. 

My information as to the history of these 
troubles, briefly stated, are as follows: On the 
9th day of August, 1882, Anderson Hatfield and 
twenty-two other desperate characters of Logan 
County, West Virginia, residing near the State 
line, crossed the river into Pike County, Ken- 
tucky, arrested three sons of Randolph McCoy, 
and having tied them to trees, deliberately shot 
them to death. It was for this cruel and inhuman 
murder that the parties named in my requisition 
were indicted in the Pike Circuit Court, three 
separate indictments having been found against 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 79 

the parties named for the murder of the three 
McCoy brothers, respectively; though it is pos- 
sible that only one of these indictments was at- 
tached to the requisition issued upon your Excel- 
lency on the loth day of September last. 

So far from " no move having been made in 
this matter for more than five years after the 
finding of the indictments," as stated by your 
Excellency, the fact is, that bench warrants have 
been all the while in the hands of the officers of 
Pike County, in the hope that these parties, who 
lived near the State line, and were frequently 
seen in Kentucky, could be arrested by the author- 
ities of the State without the necessity of apply- 
ing for a requisition upon the Governor of West 
Virginia; and my predecessor at one time of- 
fered a reward for those who were supposed to 
be most responsible for the murder. But the 
indicted parties, knowing the efforts which were 
being made for their arrest, though frequently 
seen in Kentucky, always came in crowds, well 
armed, so that it was impossible to arrest them 
before they could return to the West Virginia 
side of the river. They have, on several occa- 
sions, while in Kentucky, unmercifully whipped 
defenseless women and inoffensive men, whose 
only provocation was some alleged remark in 
disapproval of their lawless conduct. 

The names of the various persons, who, at 
different times, have been thus brutally assailed, 
and the circumstances connected therewith, have 
been furnished me, but it is not deemed neces- 
sary here to mention them in detail. 

8o Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies! 

Finally, on the loth day of September last, 
upon the application of the local authorities, as 
heretofore indicated, I issued my requisition for 
all the persons named in the indictment for the 
murder of the McCoy brothers, and offered suit- 
able rewards for four of the number, represented 
as being the leaders of the party and most re- 
sponsible for their conduct. 

Thus matters stood until the latter part of 
December (1887), when Frank Phillips, named 
as agent in the requisition for these parties, hav- 
ing sent the required fee, and being unable to 
hear anything from your Excellency, went into 
West Virginia in company with two others, and 
without any disturbance or conflict of any kind, 
succeeded in capturing Tom Chambers, Selkirk 
McCoy and Moses Christian, three of the per- 
sons named in the indictment for the murder of 
the McCoy brothers, who were brought to Ken- 
tucky and lodged in the jail of Pike County. 
This so incensed the Hatfield party that on the 
night of January ist (1888) a company of 
twelve men, headed by Cap Hatfield and James 
Vance, Sr., came from West Virginia into Pike 
County (Kentucky) and having surrounded the 
house of Randolph McCoy, the father of the 
three McCoy brothers, who had been murdered 
in 1882, commanded him to surrender, saying 
they were the Hatfield crowd. They then forced 
their way into a room where the daughters were 
sleeping, shot one of them through the heart, and 
set fire to the house. The old man and his son, 
Calvin, seeing that they intended to kill them. 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 81 

made the best defense they could, but the flames 
soon drove them from the house. 

The son, in his efforts to escape, was riddled 
with bullets, and the old man, who ran in an op- 
posite direction, was fired upon by several of the 
party, but escaped unhurt. His wife, had, in 
the meantime, come out of the house and begged 
for mercy, but was struck on the head and side 
with a gun, breaking her ribs and knocking her 
senseless to the ground, after which she was 
thrown back into the house to be burnt, but was 
dragged out by her daughters as they left the 
burning building. Some days thereafter, twenty- 
six men armed themselves and went into West 
Virginia in pursuit of the perpetrators of this 
atrocious crime, and on reaching the house of 
Anderson Hatfield, so far from abusing or mis- 
treating his wife, as has been represented to 
your Excellency, they treated her kindly, and 
at her request left some of their party there with 
her to quiet her fears ; but after leaving there in 
search of the men, they were fired upon by 
James Vance, Sr., Cap Hatfield and others, and 
in the fight which followed, James Vance, Sr., 
was killed, having on his person when killed two 
pistols and a repeating rifle. Old Randolph 
McCoy was not with this raiding party, as has 
been represented to your Excellency, but was at 
that time in Pikeville, Kentucky, as the citizens 
of that place will all testify. 

The pursuing party then returned to Kentucky, 
and being reinforced by ten additional men, went 
the next day and succeeded, without the firing 

82 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

of a gun, in capturing six more of the men in- 
dicted for the murder of the McCoy brothers, in 
1882, bringing them back to Kentucky, where 
they were lodged in the jail of Pike County. 

Eight or ten days thereafter, Frank Phillips 
and eighteen others went again into West Vir- 
ginia in pursuit of the remaining parties, belong- 
ing to what is known as the Hatfield crowd, and 
only a short distance from the State line were 
met by Cap Hatfield, Anderson Hatfield and ten 
armed men, who fired upon Phillips and his 
posse from ambush before they were aware of 
their presence. Phillips and his party returned 
the fire, killing Dempsey and putting others to 
flight. Phillips and his party then returned to 
the Kentucky side, but went back on the follow- 
ing day, and as to what has since occurred I have 
no information. 

The foregoing account, which differs so widely 
from that received by you, was obtained from 
the County Attorney of Pike County, who claims 
to have taken great pains to ascertain the real 
facts, and who seems to have no doubt about 
its correctness; but I, of course, understand how 
difficult it is to arrive at exact facts in an affair 
of this kind from the statements which he may 
have heard from the parties on either side. I 
regret exceedingly that any portion of the citizens 
of Pike County should have attempted, under 
any circumstances, to arrest citizens of West Vir- 
ginia for crimes committed in the State without 
first obtaining the requisite authority therefor. 
I am satisfied that Frank Phillips, the agent ap- 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 83 

pointed by me to receive the fugitives named in 
my requisition, is not the murderous outlaw your 
Excellency seems to suppose; but as he has un- 
dertaken to arrest some of the parties in West 
Virginia, without your warrant, and is, there- 
fore, objectionable to you, I will, when your 
Excellency indicates your readiness to surrender 
the persons demanded, take pleasure in designat- 
ing another agent for that purpose. 

Your obedient servant, 


Governor Wilson still refused to honor Ken- 
tucky's requisition for the indicted outlaws, as- 
serting that the requisition of Governor Buckner 
had been and was being abused and prostituted 
for base purposes; that a warrant issued by the 
Governor of West Virginia would be used for 
the same purpose. He would withhold the war- 
rants for more positive proof, maintaining that 
a warrant issued by him before the return to the 
State of West Virginia of the persons kidnapped 
in his State and thrown into prison in Kentucky, 
would be construed as a ratification of acts of 
lawlessness on the part of Kentucky officers, 
which neither the peace nor the safety of his 
people could permit or approve of. " Instead of 
the Phillips raid into the territory of a sister State 
being allowed to stand as examples for the in- 
vitation of like occurrences, I am impressed with 

84 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedief 

the belief that they should be made examples o'f 
judicial determination, which would discourage 
their repetition either to or from this State." 
Governor Wilson further announced that he had 
instituted proceedings in the United States Circuit 
Court for the District of Kentucky for a settle- 
ment of the questions involved. 

Comment on this attitude of West Virginia's 
chief executive is unnecessary. Yet we feel that 
a few paragraphs of Governor Buckner's re- 
sponse are in place. 

" Your Excellency/' answered Governor Buck- 
ner (in part), "seems to have forgotten that, 
long before any of the Phillips raids referred to 
had occurred, a band of armed men from West 
Virginia came into Pike County, Kentucky, vio- 
lently seized three citizens of the State who were 
at the time in custody of the local authorities of 
that county, forcibly took them to West Vir- 
ginia, and after detaining them there for some 
time, brought them back to this State and de- 
liberately shot them to death; that, as early as 
the tenth of September last, I demanded the ren- 
dition of the persons who then stood indicted in 
the courts of this State for the perpetration of 
this atrocious crime; and that it was not until 
after your Excellency had refused to surrender 
any of the persons so demanded, and until after 
said persons, or a portion of them, had committed 
other crimes of the most cruel and revolting char- 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 85 

acter, upon unoffending men and helpless women 
in this State, that Frank Phillips and other citi- 
zens of Pike County, were guilty of the acts of 
violence and bloodshed complained of. 

" If Frank Phillips and other citizens of this 
State have been guilty of crimes against the laws 
of West Virginia, however great their provoca- 
tion, I quite agree with your Excellency that 
' they should be made examples of judicial de- 
termination ' and up to this time there has cer- 
tainly been no refusal, upon a proper demand, 
to surrender them to the authorities of West Vir- 
ginia for that purpose. On the other hand, 
however, your Excellency has, for months past, 
steadily failed and refused to surrender any of 
the persons who stand charged, by indictment, 
with the perpetration of the most atrocious crimes 
against the laws of this Commonwealth, although 
the demand for them is accompanied by every 
requirement which your Excellency has indicated 
that you thought necessary. And you now in- 
dicate that you will not in the future surrender 
any of the persons thus demanded until certain 
citizens of West Virginia, who you think, are 
illegally detained in this State, shall be released 
from custody and set at liberty. 

"With all due respect I fail to see that the 
' honor ' of your State will be maintained, or 
that the ' peace and safety of its people ' will 
be preserved, by a refusal on your part to sur- 
render persons charged with the most flagitious 
crimes against the laws of this State, simply be- 
cause certain citizens of this State, acting on their 

86 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

own motion, and without the knowledge or ap- 
proval of the authorities of this State, have, in 
a violent and unauthorized way, done that which 
it was the duty of your Excellency to have done 
in the manner required by law ; or because I have 
not felt authorized to interfere with the admin- 
istration of justice by one of the coordinate 
branches of State Government, by attempting to 
release prisoners over 1 whom I had no control 
whatever. On the contrary, I respectfully sub- 
mit that the honor of both States can be better 
maintained, and the peace and safety of their 
respective citizens can be better preserved, by 
a prompt rendition of the persons charged with 
the perpetration of crime in either State, in all 
cases where such rendition is demanded in the 
manner prescribed by law " etc., 

For complete correspondence and ex- 
hibits filed therewith, see Documents 
(Ky.) 1888, No. i. 

Immediately upon the institution of proceed- 
ings in the United States Circuit Court for the 
District of Kentucky, the prisoners captured by 
Phillips and his men were removed to the Louis- 
ville jail pending trial. A great legal battle fol- 
lowed. Kentucky was ably represented by Gen- 
eral P. Watt Hardin and former Governor Proc- 
tor Knott. The best counsel of West Virginia 
represented the interests of that State. 

Phillips was charged with kidnapping citizens 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 87, 

of another State and was taken in charge by the 
United States marshal. Phillips, on the stand, 
assumed personal responsibility for all his acts, 
and exonerated Governor Buckner from any con-r 
nivance therewith. 

The case was argued at length for days. Judge 
Barr, who presided, decided, in an exhaustive 
opinion, that the Court had not jurisdiction. The 
prisoners were therefore returned to the Pike 
Circuit Court to be tried there for their crimes. 

As a matter of retaliation Phillips was indicted 
in West Virginia with kidnapping citizens of that 
State without warrant or authority of law. After 
a long continued legal battle the redoubtable 
raider, the captor of as dangerous and desperate 
a lot of men as ever trod American soil, won his 
fight in the courts as he had won the many battles 
with the outlaws. 

For years afterwards Phillips traveled in West 
Virginia wherever he desired. Although the Hat- 
fields did their " trading " at Matewan, W. Va., 
he visited that town frequently and alone, though 
always well armed. None ever molested him. 
It is significant, however, that the Hatfields and 
Phillips were never seen in that town on the same 

For some time no further arrests were made 
or attempted to be made with the result that those 

88 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

of the Hatfield clan who had never been arrested, 
again issued forth from their hiding-places and 
appeared more boldly. Kentucky officers had 
long and patiently waited for an opportunity to 
apprehend Bill Tom Hatfield, for whom there 
was a large reward. Learning that his partners 
in crime, Devil Anse and Cap Hatfield, remained 
at home unmolested, he, too, had returned to 
the scene of his evil deeds. The officers kept a 
sharp eye upon him, however, and succeeded in 
decoying him near the Kentucky line, the scheme 
being accomplished through a pretended friend 
of Bill Tom Hatfield. When he reached the spot 
designated, he was surrounded and disarmed. 
The officers attempted to cross into Kentucky. 
But before they could do so, the news of the cap- 
ture had spread into the Hatfield neighborhood. 
A strong force rushed to the rescue of the pris- 
oner. Sheriff Keadle of Mingo County, W. Va., 
being near, summoned a posse and started in pur- 
suit. He prevented a bloody encounter by pre- 
vailing upon the Kentuckians to release their pris- 
oner. The Hatfields, of course, accused the Mc- 
Coys of being at the bottom of this affair, which 
the latter stoutly denied. 

Bill Tom Hatfield was, however, later in the 
year, again taken and finally convicted for his 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 89 

participation in the murder of the three McCoy 

After the return of the prisoners from Louis- 
ville to Pike County a number of the parties were 
put on trial. Ellison Mounts was sentenced to 
hang for participation in the murder of Alii fair 
McCoy during that infamous night attack, while 
Johns Hatfield, Valentine (Val) Hatfield, the 
" Justice of the Peace of West Virginia," Plyant 
Mayhorn, and others, were convicted to the State 
penitentiary at Frankfort, Kentucky, for life. 

Val Hatfield set up the remarkable defense that 
the brothers were killed on the Kentucky side, 
and that at the time of the shooting he was on 
the West Virginia side. This was the gist of his 
appeal to the Court of Appeals of Kentucky. 
This Court, however, in a very pithy opinion, 
among other things said, confirming the judg- 
ment of the lower court : 

It is not pretended here that the State could 
enforce its laws beyond the State boundary, but 
it is well settled that if either of the appellants 
had stood on the West Virginia side and shot 
the deceased in Kentucky, the offense would have 
been against the laws of Kentucky, (i Bishop 
on Criminal Law, in.) Regarding the appel- 
lants Mayhorn the Court expressed itself in em- 
phatic language, when it said: 

90 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

" The law has been enforced in this case, and 
in its administration the appellants (defendants 
in the lower court) can truly say to the jury 
that in inflicting punishment by imprisonment for 
life ' it has tempered justice with mercy/ ' 

The Kentucky Appellate Court affirmed each 
and every one of the cases appealed. 

Ellison Mounts, sentenced to die on the gal- 
lows for shooting and killing Alii fair McCoy, ap- 
pealed on the ground that he pleaded guilty to 
the charge, and having done so he was entitled to 
a sentence of confinement in the State prison in- 
stead of hanging. It was claimed for him that 
the State, in introducing the wife of Randolph 
McCoy, so brutally beaten that night of January 
ist, 1888, had taken unfair (?) advantage of his 
condition and that, therefore, the case should be 
reversed. As in the other cases, the Court of 
Appeals refused to disturb the judgment of the 
lower court, maintaining that all the authorities 
agreed that unless a tacit agreement between the 
State and defendant had been entered into to 
reduce the punishment, the State had a right 
even under the plea of guilty to introduce testi- 
mony illustrating the atrocity of the crime. 

On February iQth, 1890, Ellison Mounts was 
hanged. For some time previous to the day of 
execution the sheriff had on duty a guard of from 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 91 

fifty to seventy-five men, armed to the teeth, and 
in addition had appointed and sworn an additional 
force of some twenty deputy sheriffs for the 
special occasion. Repeated reports had come to 
Sheriff Mayward that the Hatfields of West Vir- 
ginia would attempt a rescue. In view of what 
had transpired in the past, the precaution of the 
Kentucky sheriff was entirely warranted. 

On the day of the execution the largest crowd 
ever brought together in Kentucky on a similar 
occasion assembled at the little country town of 
Pikeville, careful and conservative estimates 
judging the number to have been nearly eight 
thousand. They came from all directions, on 
horseback, on foot, in wagons drawn by oxen. 
They came long before daybreak and from that 
time on until the time of the execution, after 
noon, the stream of visitors poured into the town. 
Little children even were brought along by 
mothers who had come to see the hanging with an 
eagerness with which they would have attended 
a circus. Is it not strange how morbidly curious 
most of us are? How we jostle each other so as 
not to lose a glimpse of misery or death? Not 
strange, after all the savage of the stone age 
is not yet eradicated from our natures. 

While the crowd collected, an incident marred 
the generally peaceable behavior of the mass 

92 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

of people. Frank Phillips was " in his cups." 
With a revolver in each hand he talked the 
streets of the town, announcing that he had run 
the Hatfields down and that now he proposed to 
run the town of Pikeville. Sheriff Mayward re- 
monstrated with Phillips, who showed fight A 
number of deputy sheriffs soon disarmed him 
and the trouble passed without serious casualty. 
In the scuffle the sheriff had been severely injured. 
As soon as he recovered from the shock he called 
the guards and from that time on matters pro- 
gressed without any other interruption. 

At that time executions were public, not be- 
hind walls or enclosures as now. A mile and 
a half from the town, in a natural amphitheatre, 
the old-fashioned gallows had been erected. The 
hills overlooking the scene were black with people. 
A few minutes past twelve the sheriff repaired 
to the jail and read the death warrant. Keen- 
eyed guards scanned the people around to detect 
any possible attempt at rescue. None was made. 
The condemned criminal listened to the reading 
of the warrant with the same stoicism that had 
marked the commission of his crimes. He 
claimed conversion, and hoped that " all men and 
women would lead good lives and to meet him 
in heaven, where he was going." 

A short time after one o'clock his lifeless form 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 93 

dangled from the gallows-beam. Ellison Mount 
had ceased to be a dread to humanity. Ignorant 
as the savage of interior Africa, he had no con- 
ception of the magnitude of his crimes. A crim- 
inal by nature, he was easily influenced to obey 
the command of those who used him as a tool. 
Shedding human blood was a pastime with him. 
However, according to orthodox teaching, he 
consorts now with the saints. A life of crime 
seems to have some compensation, after all. 

Many of the criminals being still at large, 
wanted in Kentucky or elsewhere, the Eureka 
detectives now took a hand. Among these were 
A. W. Burnett, W. G. Baldwin, Kentucky Bill, 
Tom Campbell and Treve Gibson. To the credit 
of these brave men be it said that they appre- 
hended many of these outlaws to answer for 
crimes other than those recited in connection with 
this feud. They effected the capture of John 
Norman, Joe Frank Smith and John B. Dodson, 
all of whom were put on trial before Judge T. H. 
Harvey in Logan County, West Virginia. Johns 
and Cap Hatfield went West for a time, and, 
though hounded from place to place, Cap was 
never caught. Johns Hatfield afterward served 
a short term in the State penitentiary at Frank- 
fort for participation in the night attack on the 

94 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

McCoy home and murder of Alii fair and Calvin 
McCoy. Life's cheap, isn't it? 

The feud was at an end. Some ye ,rs later, 
however, in 1896, Cap Hatfield, still at large, re- 
siding unmolested in West Virginia, committed a 
triple murder under circumstances quite in keep- 
ing with his former record of bloodshed. While 
this killing is only indirectly connected with the 
feudal troubles, an account of it and the attempted 
capture serves, however, to illustrate the daring 
and recklessness of this outlaw. 

On November 3rd, 1896, it being the day of 
the Presidential election, Cap Hatfield and his 
stepson, Joseph Glenn, whom he affectionately 
called " his boy," went to the voting place at 
iThacker. West Virginia. 

Both were heavily armed with Winchester rifles 
of large calibre and braces of Colt pistols. They 
had been at the polls but a short time when they 
fregan a dispute with John and Elliott Ruther- 
ford, two natives of that county, and who, ac- 
cording to Hatfield's story, had been members of 
the McCoy clan, and had fought with them in 
various battles against him and his relatives. 

Cap Hatfield's menacing threats and flashing 
eyes boded evil. The Rutherfords, knowing well 
the desperation of the man in anger, attempted 
to leave the polls, when Cap Hatfield threw the 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 95 

gun to his shoulder and instantly killed John 
Rutherford. The " boy " fired upon Ellison 
Rutherford, who dropped to the ground, gasped 
and expired. Hence Chambers, a prominent citi- 
zen, rushed forward just as the lad fired. The 
boy, presuming Chambers to be a friend of the 
Ruther fords, turned upon him, fired, and the 
triple murder was complete. 

The murderers retreated very deliberately to- 
ward the mountains. Indeed, there was no ne- 
cessity for hurry. Every man upon the voting 
ground appeared dazed, dumbfounded, paralyzed 
with astonishment and fear. The tragedy had 
started and finished so suddenly and unexpectedly 
that it was impossible to realize in a moment the 
magnitude of the crime. Even after the men 
regained their power of speech and action, pur- 
suit was not thought of. No one dared attempt 
the arrest of the fugitives, knowing that it would 
result in more bloodshed, and there had been 
enough for one day. 

But on the following morning, over one hun- 
dred armed and determined men answered the 
summons of Sheriff Keadle, and started on their 
perilous task to arrest the outlaws. This force 
was augmented by another, which, on the night 
following the tragedy, kept a close watch over 
the " Rock Fort," a retreat in mountain wilds, 

96 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

much in favor with the Hatfields when pursued 
by officers. 

During the night Deputy Sheriff Clark and 
one Daniel Christian were informed by a spy 
that the fugitives had stolen away from the fort 
and were going in the direction of Kentucky. 
Clark at once followed the trail indicated and 
located the two near the house of one of the Hat- 
fields where they had gone for food. 

Clark and Christian, in following the trail, on 
passing a large rock or cliff on the hillside, came 
upon the two men, who were fast asleep. Cau- 
tiously approaching, the officers recognized the 
murderers. The hazardous pursuit was at an 
end, and the capture effected without the shed- 
ding of blood. 

The excitement attending the arrest of the 
criminals was great throughout the county. Offi- 
cers feared mob violence. To avoid it the pris- 
oners were taken to Huntington, but were re- 
turned within a few days to Mingo County and 
lodged in jail, which was heavily guarded. 

Cap Hatfield's version of the tragedy is in- 
teresting and characteristic of the man. It was 
a total contradiction of the statements made by 
all the eye-witnesses. 

Cap Hatfield said : " I believe it to have been 
a prearranged attempt to take my life. Ruther- 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 97 

ford was jealous of me years ago. Some two 
years ago he said I had done him an injury and 
demanded an apology. I told him I had not 
wronged him, but if he thought I had, I regretted 
it. He seemed to accept this explanation and I 
thought the matter ended. On the day of the 
killing he was quarrelsome and I avoided him, 
telling him that I had enough trouble in my time 
and wanted no more. Late in the evening Joe 
and I started for home. Rutherford renewed his 
quarrel and suddenly drew his revolver and began 
firing at me. I threw my gun up to get it in 
position and the first ball from his revolver hit 
here" (showing a heavy indentation on the 
underside of the heavy steel gun barrel). " The 
gun prevented the ball from entering my breast. 
He fired twice more before I could get my gun 
in position, then I fired my gun twice and drew 
my revolver. At the third shot he fell, and some 
one, Ellison Rutherford, I think, was firing on 
me from behind, and getting very close to me, as 
you can see " (exhibiting a nick in his left ear 
and a grazed place or scratch in the neck). 
Chambers was shot by accident, I suppose. When 
I reached the railroad they were so hot after me 
I reloaded my revolver. Young Rutherford was 
shot purely in self-defense, either by me or the 

98 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

boy, I don't know which. We made for the 

"Yes/' he said, in answer to a question, 
" Clark and Christian got the drop on us. I was 
doing picket duty and sleep overcame me. The 
boy would have shot Clark had I not stopped 

An organized band of the Hatfields attempted 
a rescue of the prisoners, but the celerity with 
which the officers acted, frustrated the attempt. 
Devil Anse Hatfield and others were arrested for 
this, taken to Logan County and placed in jail 
there, but were soon afterwards released. 

Deprived of a leader, the famous clan dis- 
persed and the country breathed freely once more. 
Although a reward had been hanging over Cap 
Hatfield for many years without effecting his 
arrest, the tragedy of November 3rd, at last 
brought him behind prison bars. But the good 
fortune, which always attended this man, did not 
leave him even in this dire extremity. He was 
tried on one of the cases, fined and sentenced to 
imprisonment in the county jail for one year. 
Two other indictments, both for murder, were 
still pending in court. He was to be tried on 
these the following term. 

In the little county jail at Williamson, West 
Virginia, Cap Hatfield now posed as a hero, re- 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 99 

ceiving his wife, friends and relatives daily. One 
evening he held a " levee " and was the gayest 
of the gay. His gayety was explained when, on 
the following morning, the jailer made the dis- 
covery that the man who carried eighteen scalps 
at his belt, was a prisoner no longer. At mid- 
night the crowd of visitors at the jail had gone. 
At three o'clock in the morning Hatfield was in 
the mountains. A hatchet, given him by some 
of the visitors, did the work of liberation. A 
large hole through a sixteen-inch brick wall 
caught the attention of the village policeman, who 
gave the alarm. 

A crowd of men soon collected and started in 
search of the fugitive. It seems that Cap Hat- 
field, though getting off easy in one of his cases, 
was afraid to stand trial on the others, fearing 
a death sentence. But a few days before his es- 
cape he had remarked that he preferred death 
at the mouth of Winchesters to being made a 
show subject on the scaffold. 

By noon of the following day the whole coun- 
try was in motion. Like the gathering of the 
clans of old the sturdy citizens poured into the 
county seat and offered their services to bring 
back into the hands of justice the man who had 
for so many years defied the laws of two States. 
The county offered rewards, private citizens con- 

ioo Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

tributed to defray the expenses of the posse. 
Governor Atkinson of West Virginia promised 
aid; the State of Kentucky, through Governor 
Bradley, tendered assistance, and Virginia's ex- 
ecutive declared that the outlaw should find no 
asylum in that State. 

The banks of the Ohio river were lined with 
armed men for many miles to prevent his escape 
into that State. It was generally believed that 
he would be apprehended within a day or two. 
But days passed and yet the outlaw had eluded his 
pursuers. He was no longer alone now. To his 
aid came his relatives, Johns, Elias and Troy 
Hatfield, Clark Smith, Henry Harmon and 
others, each heavily armed, and amply supplied 
with ammunition. Familiar with every nook and 
corner of that part of West Virginia, he was 
secretly assisted by other friends and henchmen, 
bound to him by ties of relationship or forced to 
render assistance through fear of incurring his 

This condition aroused the entire State of West 
Virginia. On Wednesday the sheriff, with a con- 
siderable force of " militia," composed of men 
to be depended upon, again took to the mountains. 
Within three hours of their departure old Ran- 
dolph McCoy came into Williamson, West Vir- 
ginia. He was clad in the homespun of the 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 101 

country. His large-brimmed hat was adorned 
with a squirrel's tail. Carrying an old-fashioned, 
muzzle-loading rifle, he looked worthy of the 
comradeship of Daniel Boone or Kit Carson. 
Years before that, three of his sons had been 
foully murdered while being tied to bushes ; some 
years afterwards another son and a daughter were 
shot down in cold blood, his wife brutally beaten, 
his home reduced to ashes, himself escaping 
only by a miracle, and now the old man is on 
the trail of one of the participants, if not the 
actual instigator of these outrages. He had come, 
said McCoy, to aid in the capture of " six feet 
of devil, and 180 pounds of hell," as he always 
described Cap Hatfield. 

Seven miles below Williamson, McCoy over- 
took Sheriff Keadle, and united with him. 
Stretching over as much country as possible, the 
force scattered and advanced in skirmish lines. 
Nothing was seen of the fugitive on that day. 
At night camp was made on lower Beech Creek. 
The posse was now in the very heart of the Hat- 
field country, on Cap Hatfield' s native heath. 

Some years before in this locality Charles Mc- 
Kenney, a cousin of the McCoys, a lad of only 
eighteen, had been riddled with buckshot by Cap 
Hatfield and two others. 

During the night, after the moon had risen, 

IO2 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

guards reported a column of smoke further up 
on the creek. This was not unexpected. The 
stronghold of the Hatfields was on a decided ele- 
vation some four miles away. The smoke sug- 
gested that they were there. The rumor served 
to keep the camp awake until daylight, when the 
march was resumed, the posse heading direct for 
the old palisade. The advance was made with 
caution. When within a quarter of a mile from 
the " fort," the first glimpse of the outlaw was 
had. His oft repeated boast that if once he 
gained the mountains, he would turn his back on 
no man, proved idle talk. He and his comrades 
rapidly retreated toward another mountain 
stronghold. When the log cabin was reached it 
was empty. No time was lost here. The men, 
elated at being so close upon the outlaws' trail, 
marched with spirit and rapidity. The direction 
these had taken indicated that they were strain- 
ing every nerve to reach the mountain crag known 
as the " Devil's Backbone." It is said that from 
this point, some years previous, Devil Anse Hat- 
field had fought single-handed a considerable 
force of men. It was then that the summit was 
christened and received its weird name, and where 
old man Hatfield won his " nom de guerre "of 
" Devil Anse." 

The mountains in this section are very steep 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 103 

to the southeast; Beech Creek cuts and winds 
through the hills until it empties into the Tug 
Fork. Huge walls of rock fringe the stream on 
each side. The strata is tilted until it stands on 
edge, a remarkable, interesting geological forma- 
tion. Approach is impossible except from one di- 
rection. A slender footpath at that point clambers 
laboriously upward. At no place is there room 
for two men abreast. Two sharpshooters on top 
might successfully defend the place against a 
regiment. It was this stronghold that Cap Hat- 
field and his companions were so anxious to gain. 
He finally reached the foot of it, but at a loss. 
Old man McCoy was among the first of the at- 
tacking party, forging ahead with grim deter- 
mination. Intuitively he seemed to know his old 
enemy's destination. McCoy and six or seven 
men at last separated from the main body of the 
sheriff's force and followed a cattle path. Sheriff ' 
Keadle pursued the other trail. It was along in 
the afternoon that the quiet of the forest hills 
was suddenly broken by a shot. Before another 
was heard, the armed posse was in a clearing 
which commanded a view for a mile or more to- 
ward the " Devil's Backbone." Nothing, how- 
ever, could be seen except that the summit of the 
citadel was yet unoccupied. Then a white puff 
of smoke, followed instantly by a rapid fusilade, 

104 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

told that the battle had begun. McCoy and his 
party had intercepted the Hatfields. At that dis- 
tance it was impossible to see the actors in the 
drama then being acted. Shot followed shot. 
Both parties were in ambush. Ever and anon 
old Randolph McCoy's rifle could be heard. Then 
there came a lull. By the aid of his field-glasses 
the sheriff saw that Hatfield was flanking McCoy. 
It was plain that the old man must either retreat 
or perish. But the old fox had not lost his cun- 
ning. He quickly saw the danger and effected a 
safe retreat, while the Hatfields stopped at the 
foot of the coveted fortress. It was seen that 
two of the Hatfield crowd were wounded. 

The sheriff and his posse now pressed forward 
with speed. Within a few minutes they joined 
McCoy. It was almost dark, now, when the 
forces were once more united, and approached 
within range of the Hatfield guns. Bullets 
whistled and cut the twigs of limbs over the heads 
of the pursuers. The sheriff commanded his men 
to seek cover. Instantly every man " treed." 
Then began a fight after the fashion of Indian 
battles of old. The moment a body was exposed 
from a protecting tree, it was certain to become 
a target for many guns. Gradually, carefully, 
nevertheless surely the posse forged ahead, al- 
ways under cover, yet advancing, concentrating 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 105 

and getting closer. Escape for the Hatfields 
seemed now impossible, unless they could put 
into effect one of their wonderful dashes which 
in the past had extricated them out of many dan- 
gers and difficulties. Cap Hatfield directed the 
fire of his men with utter disregard for their own 
safety. He seemed to bear a charmed life. The 
target of every sharpshooter in the sheriff's posse, 
not once did a bullet touch him. The Hatfield 
rifles did better execution. The posse, which had 
left Williamson the previous morning with flying 
colors and full of hope, was now decimated. 
Two of the deputies were fatally wounded and 
seven members of the posse more or less severely. 

As night drew near the battle ceased. The 
posse camped. A council of war was held. Some 
were for pressing on in the night. Others, with 
cooler judgment, suggested that it was safer to 
starve the outlaws into submission. The latter 
opinion prevailed. 

Early on the following morning (Friday), 
there was a short but hot skirmish during which 
another of the posse was wounded. At noon the 
sheriff was reinforced by a force led by J. H. 
Baldwin. This man had, for some time, led the 
Hatfields a hard life. Ever on their trail, he 
either captured them or drove them from the 
country. Cap and his band were those who had 

io6 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

given him the most trouble and had constantly 
eluded him, thus far. Now he had another op- 
portunity to try conclusions with them. Baldwin 
was a splendidly courageous man, and a crack 
shot with the rifle. He at once took the lead. 
" When I was a boy/' he said, " I smoked many 
a rabbit out of a hollow tree." With this remark 
he despatched two men to Williamson for a 
supply of dynamite. The besiegers sat down to 

Late on Friday evening Baldwin " winged " 
one of the Hatfields. The man had attempted to 
reach water. 

At nine o'clock Saturday morning, the dyna- 
mite arrived and preparations were made to place 
the mine. By eleven o'clock the work was com- 
plete, the match applied and the command given 
to retire. 

Until now the besieged had apparently been in 
utter ignorance of what was being done. But the 
flashing of the train of powder leading to the 
dynamite, brought them to a full realization of 
their peril. Men sprang from cover and rushed 
hither and thither in full view. Cap Hatfield was 
seen to start for the path, heedless of the bullets 
that spitefully hissed about his ears. Then they 
made a sudden rush down the mountain. In this 
" sortie " three men went down. This convinced 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 107 

the rest of the uselessness of an attempt to escape 
by the path thus guarded. The trapped des- 
peradoes returned to the " fort " and began to 
throw stones and bowlders upon the train of 
powder in the hope of breaking it. Then came the 
explosion. It sounded as though the mountains 
were slipping from their sockets. Pieces of rock 
and portions of trees flew in every direction. 
The atmosphere was surcharged with dust and 
smoke. When the air cleared at last, it was seen 
that more than half of the " Devil's Backbone" 
was torn up and blown down the mountain-side 
into a small arm of the Tug Fork, changing the 
course of the stream. Hatfield was still un- 
harmed. In the excitement of the moment, Dan 
Lewis, Steve Stanley and Jack Monroe of the 
posse had left the shelter of the trees and were 
wounded. Another charge of dynamite was 
placed, and the besiegers retreated still further 
down the valley. The second explosion shook 
the earth the Hatfields seemed doomed. But 
the moment the smoke cleared away rifle shots 
poured .into the flank of Baldwin's men. Cap 
Hatfield had again successfully foiled the plans of 
his pursuers. His retreat had been made possible 
under cover of the smoke from the explosion. 
Thus the dynamite charge had effected nothing 

io8 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

except the destruction of one of nature's unique 

The chase was renewed, and though hampered 
by the wounded members of his clan, he made his 
escape. The spectacular attempt to capture the 
famous outlaw bore no fruit save wounds for 
many of the posse. Cap Hatfield, the man who 
is said to have a record of having killed eighteen 
men in his life, was gone. He was never appre- 

Some years ago he lived in Virginia, apparently 
peaceably, but engaged in the sale of whiskey, 
a vocation which is almost certain to get him into 
trouble again, as it did two of his brothers, Elias 
and Troy, during October, 1911. They were 
shot and killed in a pistol duel at Cannelton, W. 
Va., by Octavo Gerone, an Italian, with whom 
they had a dispute over saloon property. The 
Italian opened fire upon the two Hatfields, fatally 
wounded both, and was himself instantly killed, 
riddled with bullets from the dying men. When 
the brothers were found by neighbors, the ex- 
piring Troy Hatfield made the characteristic re- 
mark : " You need not look for the man who did 
this, he is dead." 

Years ago the prophecy was made that " Devil 
Anse " would inevitably die with his boots on. 
But he has confounded the prophets. He still 

The Great Hatfield-McCoy Feud 109 

lives, from last accounts. The daring feudist, 
who, with his sons, defied the law and authori- 
ties of three States, for twenty years, the chief- 
tain of as daring a band of outlaws as ever trod 
American soil, has more than lived his " allotted 
three score years and ten." He is approaching 
the nineties. But a few days before the killing 
of Elias and Troy, just mentioned, he was con- 
verted and baptized, declaring that henceforth 
he would lead a Christian life. It was high time, 
a resolution unfortunately long deferred. 

Randolph McCoy also passed the four score 
mark. He seemed to have borne a charmed life. 
Marked for assassination a hundred times, he 
had always escaped bodily harm. But his heart 
almost broke when three of his sons were slaugh- 
tered in one night; his spirit was crushed when 
another son and a young daughter were foully 
slain, his aged wife was brutally beaten and the 
home burned. 

After all, he had the questionable satisfaction 
of assisting a few of his tormentors to a tempo- 
rary berth in the penitentiary. One and only one 
was hanged, Ellison Mount, the slayer of Alli- 
fair, and he was the gainer at last, for he went 
straight to heaven. So he said. Perhaps he 
knew, perhaps he didn't. 

Somehow, it seems difficult to believe that 

no Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

murderers should have a monopoly of heaven. 
The murderers' band there must be very large. 
Let a man be sentenced to death for a heinous 
crime, let his attempt to obtain a commutation 
to imprisonment prove abortive, and straight way 
he repents and away he goes to heaven, so 'tis 
said. His victim, snatched into eternity with- 
out the formal preparations which orthodox re- 
ligion ^prescribes for candidates for heaven, must 
suffer an eternity of hell. 

They tell us " we shall know each other there/' 
Will Randolph McCoy and his wife thrill with 
pleasure and be overcome with ecstatic spasms of 
happiness on beholding among the saints the 
slayers of four sons and a daughter? Will they 
join in the anthems warbled by these celestial 
birds, whose victims But let that be. We did 
not mean to be irreverent. We simply cannot help 
differing from the approved and established con- 
ception of God's justice. 



THE royal murder at Seravejo was the spark 
that set the world on fire. It would be silly, how- 
ever, to place the blame of the world war upon 
it. To find the real causes of the appalling 
tragedy one must go further back. 

So it is with the great Rowan County war. 
There were many agencies at work that con- 
tributed, little by little, but none the less surely, 
to that state of anarchy which disgraced Rowan 
County and Kentucky during the eighties. The 
evil influences which initiated it were: Politics 
and Whiskey. A weak-kneed, yea, corrupt ad- 
ministration of justice permitted its continuation. 
The reign of terror which continued so long un- 
hindered could have been crushed in its infancy 
with any sort of an honest, determined effort at 
law enforcement. 

A verse or two of Mulligan's " IN KEN- 
TUCKY " finds excellent application here : 


H 12 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

" The bluegrass waves the bluest 

In Kentucky; 
Yet, bluebloods are the fewest ( ?) 

In Kentucky; 
Moonshine is the clearest, 
By no means the dearest, 
And yet, it acts the queerest 

In Kentucky. 

" The dove-notes are the saddest, 

In Kentucky: 
The streams dance on the gladdest 

In Kentucky: 

Hip pockets are the thickest, 
Pistol hands the slickest, 
The cylinder turns quickest 

In Kentucky. 

" The song birds are the sweetest 

In Kentucky: 
The thoroughbreds are fleetest 

In Kentucky: 
Mountains tower proudest, 
Thunder peals the loudest, 
The landscape is the grandest, 
AND POLITICS the damndest 

In Kentucky." 

In the long continued struggle which brought 
Rowan County into disrepute, many families of 
high reputation, men of wealth and influence, as 
well as men of reckless, undaunted, desperate 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 113 

character, were pitted against each other. Offi- 
cers of the law, lawyers, judges and politicians of 
more than ordinary ability and reputation, quar- 
reled, disputed and excited such unreasoning pas- 
sion as to result in bloodshed. After that the 
dogged, stubborn determination of the different 
factions admitted of no other settlement of the 
controversy save by the arbitrament of arms, a 
war to the death. 

Patrick Henry cried out before the Virginia 
Convention : " Gentlemen may cry peace, peace, 
but there is no peace." In Rowan County, too, 
men cried continually for peace, yet there was 
to be no peace until anarchy had almost depopu- 
lated the county and its name had become synony- 
mous with outlawry. The only alternative left 
was to leave the country or fight. Some did leave, 
most of them remained and fought, fought with 
a courage worthy of a better cause. 

The courts appeared powerless. The officers 
were themselves bitter partisans. The govern- 
ment of the State, when applied to for troops to 
assist in restoring order, sometimes refused aid, 
owing to a technicality in the law, and thus was 
precipitated the famous bloody battle at More- 
head, in which many men were killed and 

It may be well to add that Rowan County was 

1 14 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

not a remote, inaccessible region where civiliza- 
tion had made but little progress, as was the case 
along the border of West Virginia and Kentucky, 
the scene of the Hatfield-McCoy war. Good 
roads and railroad communication had introduced 
to Rowan County even then a civilization which 
should have made the bloody conflict impossible; 
it certainly made it inexcusable. 

It is difficult to produce a fair picture of the 
political upheavals and complications which even- 
tually led to and resulted in so much bloodshed 
without going behind the actual outbreak of the 
feud. While this necessitates the narration of 
incidents of purely local interest, and may, there- 
fore, not grip the interest of outsiders, a patient 
reading of it will develop the fact that it is indis- 
pensable to a true understanding of the history 
of this war, and also that it teaches a moral. 

As early as 1874 political quarrels arose, en- 
gendering bitter hatred, between prominent, 
wealthy and influential men of Rowan and sur- 
rounding counties. At that time it was hoped and 
generally believed that the difficulties would be 
forgotten as soon as the heat of the political con- 
tests had abated. But as the years passed fac- 
tional division grew more and more pronounced. 
Citizens who had theretofore held aloof from the 
disputes, were gradually and surely drawn into the 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 115 

vortex of strife. As is usual and unavoidable 
under such circumstances, many desperate, de- 
graded characters attached themselves to the va- 
rious factions. These would commit deeds for 
pay, from the commission of which the more cir- 
cumspect employers of them shrank in fear. In 
such wars the hired assassin always finds lucra- 
tive employment. He becomes the blind tool of 
the coward with the money, and the greater the 
compensation the more horrible his crimes. 

The innocent but direct cause of the political 
struggle to which we must refer, was the Hon- 
orable Thomas F. Hargis, who, in after years, 
rose to the highest judicial position in the State. 
His father, before him, served in the constitu- 
tional convention of the State in 1849 and was 
a very distinguished Kentuckian. 

When the great rebellion broke out, Kentucky 
soon began to suffer the distress and horrors of 
civil war. It at first declared its intention to re- 
main neutral. Governor McGoffin refused to 
furnish troops to the Union army and attempted 
to enforce neutrality by maintaining a " Home 
Guard." This brought on many conflicts with 
the State Guards. It became at once apparent 
that the two bodies of troops were nothing more 
than partisans. The Home Guards often em- 
ployed their military power and authority in ha- 

1 16 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

rassing and mistreating actual or suspected sym- 
pathizers with the cause of the South. The State 
Guards, on the other hand, used their influence 
and made every exertion toward turning the tide 
of public sentiment in favor of the Confederacy. 

The sudden invasion of Kentucky by the fede- 
ral troops was greeted with joy by the Home 
Guards, who made no attempt to repel it or to 
preserve the State's neutrality for which purpose 
they had been organized. The larger portion of 
the Home Guards, in fact, at once joined the 
Union army. The State Guards disbanded and 
a majority of them joined the Confederates. 
The division of Kentucky was now complete. 

In the general rush to opposing armies we 
find Thomas Hargis donning the grey and fight- 
ing for the " Lost Cause " as captain until the 
close of the war. 

Returning home, he studied law and was ad- 
mitted to the bar. The date of this admission, 
an unimportant point it may seem, was neverthe- 
less responsible for the internecine strife of after 

In the year 1874, Captain Hargis, who had 
already won prominence as a lawyer of ability 
and sagacity, was nominated by the democratic 
party as its candidate for judge of the circuit 
court. Opposed to Hargis in this race was Geo. 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 117 

M. Thomas, afterwards United States District 
Attorney for the District of Kentucky. He was 
the nominee of the Republican party. The race 
was exceedingly hot and spirited from the begin- 
ning. The contest became bitter. It was charged 
by the friends of Thomas, among whom were not 
only the Republicans whose nominee and choice 
he was, but enemies of Hargis in the ranks of his 
own party, that he was not eligible to the office 
because he had not attained the requisite age, and 
that he was still further disqualified from holding 
the position of Circuit Judge because he had not 
been licensed as a lawyer for a sufficient number 
of years. These reports were industriously circu- 
lated against him. Appreciating the danger of 
such a rumor in a contest like this was, and 
knowing that only a prompt refutation and re- 
pudiation of the charges could prevent his signal 
and disastrous defeat, he hastened to obtain 
copies of the records of his age, and of the date 
of his admission to the bar from the records of 
the Clerk's office. 

At the time of his candidacy Hargis was a 
resident of Carlisle, Nicholas County, but when 
admitted to the practice of the law had resided 
in Rowan County. So the records of his ad- 
mission to the bar must be obtained there. He, 
therefore, went at once to Morehead and insti- 

1 1 8 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

tuted an examination of the records, but to his 
consternation it revealed the astounding fact that 
the only record and evidence of his admission to 
the bar had been mutilated and destroyed; the 
pages containing them had been cut out from the 
books. Added to this was the unwelcome dis- 
covery that the family Bible had also been muti- 
lated in so far as it contained the record of his 
age. The charges of ineligibility had been 
widely circulated and published in the newspapers 
and Hargis' inability to refute them for lack of 
record evidence now gave them the stamp and 
color of truth. The Republicans, and the per- 
sonal enemies of Hargis among the Democrats, 
were jubilant, while his friends flatly and broadly 
accused Thomas' friends and supporters of the 
crime of stealing and destroying public records. 
This further increased the already bitter feeling. 
The friends of Thomas now charged that if any 
such records had ever existed Hargis himself had 
stolen and destroyed them. The result of it all 
was that Hargis was defeated by his Republi- 
can opponent, and this in a district thereto- 
fore always safely Democratic. The close of the 
contest brought out another truth no longer to 
be denied or overlooked. Every circumstance 
and condition existing after the election pointed 
clearly to the fact that something more than fac- 

Jhe Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 119 

tional, political animosity, common in all hotly 
contested races for position, had been awakened 
and that in the hearts of many, malice had taken 
deep root. Each succeeding election only aug- 
mented the bitter feeling. Desire for revenge, 
and, what at first seemed but political excitement 
and zeal for the favored candidate, now caused 
friends of old to cancel their friendship and the 
most prominent leaders of the opposing factions 
regarded each other no longer as merely political, 
but as personal enemies. 

In the year 1876 the Legislature of Kentucky 
created a Circuit Court for Commonwealth pro- 
ceedings alone, the new district being composed 
of the same counties as the old. Hargis again 
announced himself a candidate for judge of the 
newly-organized court. This time he was elected 
with an easy majority. He continued in this 
office, which he filled with signal ability, until in 
the spring of 1879, when an event took place 
which opened to him the road to still higher 
honors, and also still further fanned the flame 
of political and personal strife. 

The event referred to was the vacancy created 
on the bench of the Court of Appeals as the re- 
sult of a tragedy enacted upon the streets of the 
capital of the State, at Frankfort, the assassi- 
nation of Appellate Judge J. M. Elliott, by one 

<I2O Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

Thomas Bufford. The tragic death of this able 
jurist horrified all Kentucky. 

His slayer pleaded insanity. The trial jury on 
first ballot stood six for conviction and six for 
acquittal on the ground of insanity. Finally, the 
verdict of the whole jury declared him insane. 
He was transferred to the Asylum at Anchorage 
where he remained but a short time. He escaped 
to Indiana where he remained because our requi- 
sition laws were then not sufficient to enforce his 
return to Kentucky. 

Immediately after the death of Justice Elliott 
an election was ordered for his successor and 
Judge Hargis again became a candidate before 
the Democratic convention. A number of able 
and distinguished jurists opposed him before that 
body, many of these much older and experienced 
than he. In spite of the powerful opposition 
brought to bear against him, Judge Hargis again 
succeeded in obtaining the nomination, another 
proof of his political influence as well as of his 
talents and abilities as a lawyer and politician. 

This last and most important success of Hargis 
aroused anew the malign hatred and envy of his 
numerous enemies in the camps of his own party. 
The old charges were renewed, remodeled, re- 
hashed, renovated and added to, as the occa- 
sion demanded. The story of his wilful, felo- 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 121 

tiious destruction and mutilation of court records 
was republished and more extensively circulated 
than ever. Newspapers, circulars, hand-bills and 
letters telling the story were scattered throughout 
the district, posted up at all public places, on 
fences and trees along the highways, thus in- 
creasing factional enmity to a dangerous in- 

Opposed to him in this race was Judge Holt, 
a Republican politician and lawyer of prominence, 
and of unassailable purity of character. 

The contest between these men was waged with 
spirit with the result that the mantle of Judge 
Elliott fell upon Judge Hargis. During the can- 
vass Judge Hargis, through the Courier Journal 
and other newspapers, had denounced the person 
over whose signatures a number of the scandalous 
accusations and derogatory charges had been 
made, as liars, calumniators and villains. 

Thomas M. Green, editor of the Maysville 
Eagle, also correspondent of the Cincinnati Com- 
mercial Gazette, had been most persistent in in- 
dustriously keeping the disparaging accusations 
against Hargis in the columns of the Republican 
press of the country. Editor Green was, in con- 
sequence, singled out by Hargis in his card to 
the Courier Journal as the chief offender, assail- 
ing him in most bitter terms. Green applied to 

1 22 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

the law for redress and instituted suit for libel 
in the Jefferson Circuit Court at Louisville, ask- 
ing for a large sum in damages. 

Early in the spring of 1880 the case came on 
for trial. Hargis waived all questions of juris- 
diction which it had been expected he would use 
as a defense. He somewhat staggered his 
enemies by admitting responsibility for the article 
upon which the suit was based, and declaring his 
ability to prove the charges made against Green 
as true. The trial lasted for many months. It 
was minutely reported in the press of the country 
and read everywhere. Even now the angel of 
good fortune did not desert Judge Hargis. He 
won the case. 

During this period the controversy between 
Green and Hargis had very sharply aligned the 
friends and enemies in Rowan County. So com- 
plete was the breach that the thoughtful ones 
looked forward to open, actual hostilities. Hope 
of compromise disappeared as time passed. 

A storm so long brewing is apt to accumulate 
extraordinary force. A fury long pent up will 
break loose with greater fierceness. The strife 
had penetrated every neighborhood, almost every 
household. Any public occasion, especially the 
biennial election, was looked forward to with 
dread. Minor political contests, waged in these 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 123 

elections, served to open old sores and to inflict 
new wouads, adding material for the spirit of 
revenge to feed upon. 

At that time the Australian ballot system had 
not yet been introduced. The viva voce system 
was in vogue, and bribery in elections was, there- 
fore, much more common than it is now. Can- 
didates practically bought their offices. The voter 
cast his vote publicly; it was recorded publicly, 
and cried out publicly. In this wise the buyer of 
the vote controlled the seller, and, very often, 
vote sellers were driven en masse to the polls like 
so many sheep, a cause of innumerable election 

Another successful instigator of trouble on 
election day was the free and promiscuous use 
of liquor with which candidates treated and in- 
fluenced the voters. Election contests frequently 
excite the most staid and conservative citizens, 
but when whiskey is added it is certain to arouse 
passions which might, otherwise, have slumbered 

Such were conditions in Rowan County on the 
day of election, August, 1884. 

A hot political race was on between one S. B. 
Goodan, the Democratic nominee for sheriff of 
the county, and W. C. Humphrey, commonly 
known as Cook Humphrey, the Republican noro- 

124 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

inee. The county being almost equally divided 
politically, the contest was close. Each of the 
candidates was wealthy, influential and exten- 
sively related. Money was used without stint, 
barrooms were thrown wide open at Morehead, 
the county seat, and principal town of the county, 
as well as at most other precincts in the county. 

The town was crowded with excited, angry, 
drunken men and all through the day there were 
fist fights and brawls. During one of these, the 
prelude to the conflict which afterward attracted 
the attention of the American press, John Mar- 
tin, son of Ben Martin, a wealthy farmer, was 
struck down and seriously injured. He imme- 
diately sprang to his feet, drew his pistol and a 
general pistol battle followed. When the smoke 
had cleared away, Solomon Bradley was found 
dead, Adam Sizemore severely wounded. 

The death of Bradley, a good citizen, who had 
taken no part in the fighting, and the wounding 
of Sizemore and Martin proved of fatal conse- 
quences. Bradley was one of the most influen- 
tial Republicans of the county. He and John 
Martin were members of the best families and 
extensively related even in adjoining counties. 
The Martins were known to be ambitious and 
brave men. It appeared that Martin received his 
wounds at the hands of Floyd Tolliver, a brother 

Jhc Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 125 

of Craig Tolliver, who afterwards attained such 
unenviable notoriety and bore the distinction of 
being one of the most cruel, bloodthirsty des- 
peradoes Kentucky ever had the misfortune to 
own as her son, and whose tragic death on the 
day of the memorable battle at Morehead some 
years later was heralded throughout the country. 

John C. Day, the then acting Sheriff of Rowan 
County, was charged with the shooting and 
wounding of Sizemore. 

The first blood had now been spilt; more was 
bound to follow. Even the most hopeful became 
convinced that a long and bloody conflict could 
no longer be averted. Those best acquainted with 
the state of affairs knew, and rightly predicted, 
that the law would not be invoked to settle the 
trouble and punish the offenders. " A life for a 
life " was the motto that henceforth governed 
the factions, now arrayed against each other in 
open, desperate warfare. 

The wounding of Martin by Floyd Tolliver 
placed the latter and his friends and relatives in 
a dangerous position. They knew the Martins 
would not pass lightly over the matter. Their 
numbers and influence made them dangerous ad- 
versaries. Floyd Tolliver lived at Farmers, a 
small village on the Licking river, a station of 
the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, which traverses 

ii26 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

the county and passes through Morehead. The 
Tollivers also were a large family. Floyd, be- 
lieving himself in danger, now turned to his rela- 
tives and friends for assistance. They responded 
promptly, armed and organized. The Martins, 
the Sizemores and the Days did likewise, thus 
dividing the county into four factions, composed 
of determined, courageous and desperate men. 

During the Circuit Court following the murder 
of Bradley the grand jury returned indictments 
against John Martin, Floyd Tolliver and Sheriff 
John C. Day for malicious shooting and wound- 
ing and murder. Bail was granted, bonds were 
readily executed and the cases continued until the 
next term of court. 

In December following the fight of August, 
1884, Floyd Tolliver and John Martin, who had 
recovered from his wounds, came for the first 
time face to face outside of the court room and 
when not in custody of the officers, since their 
fight. They met in a barroom, a place never 
suitable for enemies to meet. Had both men 
been duly sober trouble might have been averted. 
But, flushed with liquor, the old grudge soon got 
in its work, a dispute arose, their hands reached 
for their pistols, the shining weapons flashed for 
a moment, then belched forth fire and flame, a 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 127 

cry, the dull thud of a falling body Floyd Tol- 
liver lay prostrate upon the floor dead. 

Martin was immediately arrested and conveyed 
to the county jail. To his friends the killing was 
a shock. They were fully convinced that Craig 
Tolliver and the other brothers of Floyd Tolliver 
would seek summary vengeance. Grave fears 
were entertained for the safety of John Martin 
in the old jail. Rumors of the organization of a 
large Tolliver mob increased anxiety and appre- 
hension with each fleeting hour. But, as much 
as the Tollivers were feared, and the more they 
threatened, Martin's friends bravely prepared to 
protect him at all hazards. Thus the aggressive- 
ness of the Tollivers was counteracted by the bold 
defiance of the Martins. 

The County Attorney, Mr. Young, was one of 
the ablest and most fearless Commonwealth law- 
yers in Kentucky. By his enemies, and they were 
numerous, he was regarded as wholly unscrupu- 
lous. They refused to credit him with even one 
pure thought, or action, emanating from a noble 
impulse. But unbiased investigation of the facts 
of this matter clearly shows that Mr. Young did 
his duty in this particular. He was perfectly 
acquainted with the character of the men arrayed 
against Martin, and was not the man to be de- 
luded by their repeated declarations that the law 

128 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

would be permitted to take its course. At the 
risk of antagonizing the Tolliver faction against 
himself Mr. Young promptly directed the re- 
moval of John Martin to the Clark County jail at 
Winchester for safekeeping. County Judge 
Stewart saw the wisdom of it and issued the 
order for the removal, which was accomplished 
without mishap. 

As soon as it became known that their in- 
tended victim had escaped them, the Tollivers, 
furious and raging, gathered in large force, 
spreading terror wherever they appeared. " We 
can wait " they said, " there is another day 
coming. John Martin must be brought back to 
Morehead for trial and then just wait." 

December loth, 1884, was the day set for the 
examining trial before County Judge Stewart at 
Morehead. Before that day arrived, the unusual 
activity of the Tollivers, the ominous collection 
of all the members and friends of that family, 
the frequent but secret meetings, had been quietly, 
but nevertheless keenly observed by Judge Stew- 
art. He was convinced that if Martin were 
brought back to Rowan County at this time of 
ferment and excitement he would suffer a violent 
death at the hands of his enemies, and that any 
attempt on the part of the officers and friends of 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 129 

the prisoner would precipitate a conflict the mag- 
nitude of which could not be foretold. 

In this opinion Judge Stewart was sustained by 
Attorney Young. After a careful investigation 
of the state of affairs the court decided on an in- 
definite postponement of the trial. The order to 
the jailer of Clark County, directing him to de- 
liver Martin to officers of Rowan County, was 
suspended on the Qth day of December, but unfor- 
tunately (fateful neglect!) the order of suspen- 
sion was not communicated to the Clark County 
jailer. The wife of John Martin had been ad- 
vised of the postponement of the trial. The 
faithful woman who had already suffered untold 
anxiety and fear for the safety of her husband, 
felt relieved and hastened to Winchester to in- 
form him of the action of the Court of Rowan 

As soon as the Tollivers were informed that 
the trial would not take place, and that, there- 
fore, Martin would remain at Winchester for an 
indefinite time, they convened in a council of war 
to discuss plans of campaign. 

A raid upon the Winchester jail was suggested, 
but the leaders, though desperate and brave 
enough to have attempted and dared anything, 
did not believe that such an undertaking would 

JL$O Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

meet with success. They advised strategy in- 
stead of force. 

On the Qth of December, on the same day that 
Judge Stewart canceled the order for delivery 
of the prisoner by the jailer of Clark County, 
an order was delivered into the hands of A. M. 
Bowling, town marshal at Farmers, directing him 
to demand Martin from the jailer at Winches- 
ter and to convey him to the county jail at More- 
head. The order also directed the jailer of Clark 
County to surrender Martin into the custody of 
Bowling. The plot was shrewdly planned. The 
order, forged, of course, would open the doors of 
the Winchester jail without difficulty, and the 
prisoner must, therefore, become an easy victim 
on his way to Rowan County. 

Bowling, a Tolliver clansman, engaged four 
other members of it to accompany him to Win- 
chester, Hall, Eastman, Milt and Ed Evans. 
Four men to convey a handcuffed prisoner! It 
was deemed best to send a sufficient number to 
prevent outsiders from interfering in the final act 
of the inhuman drama staged by Craig Tolliver 
and his henchmen. 

On arriving at the jail at Winchester, Bowling 
presented his order, which was signed (?) by 
two Justices of the Peace of Rowan County and 
which directed the delivery of Martin to Bowling. 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 131 

The order was carefully drawn in the usual form, 
and had every appearance of genuineness. A few 
minutes after John Martin's wife had bidden her 
husband good-bye at the Winchester jail, Bowling 
presented his order for the delivery of Martin. 

While the wife was at the station awaiting 
the arrival of the train which was to carry her 
homeward, little dreaming that she had clasped 
the hand of her husband warm with life for the 
last time, the prisoner was aroused by his keeper 
and told to prepare for his removal to More- 
head. Martin at once became suspicious. He 
remonstrated against the transfer, but the jailer 
produced the order. The prisoner pleaded long 
and earnestly. He explained to the official that 
he had received definite information through his 
wife that on account of the danger that awaited 
him at Morehead the county authorities of Rowan 
County had indefinitely postponed his removal. 
He insisted that Bowling and his companions 
were his deadly enemies; that every surrounding 
circumstance pointed to treachery, and that his 
delivery into the hands of Bowling meant noth- 
ing more nor less than assassination. 

The jailer turned a deaf ear to his entreaties. 
He argued that a refusal to comply with the im- 
perative order of the Rowan County Judge would 
involve him in trouble. He had no right to be- 

132 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

lieve the order forged. It bore the stamp of gen- 
uineness. It seems to us, however, that a more 
circumspect officer, informed of the conditions 
and circumstances surrounding the prisoner, ac- 
quainted with the dangerous state of affairs in 
Rowan County as the result of which Martin had 
been removed to Winchester, would have held 
the prisoner until he could have communicated 
with the authorities at Morehead. Disobedience 
to the court's orders, intended for the protection 
of a helpless prisoner, could not have been sub- 
ject to censure, especially when the forgery of 
the order was later on established. He might 
easily have verified the genuineness of the paper 
by telegraph. Blind obedience often works in- 
jury. Threatening disasters through blunders of 
commanding officers have often been averted by 
the disobedience of inferior officers, who pre- 
ferred facing court martial rather than become a 
party to useless slaughter and defeat. 

John Martin was delivered to Bowling and his 
companions. Securely shackled, he was marched 
to the train. Doubtless he suffered the same 
mental agony as does the man on the way to 
the scaffold. It was pathetic chance that Mrs. 
Martin boarded the same train. She entered an- 
other coach, entirely ignorant of her husband's 
presence in the next one. 

L The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 133 

While this occurred at Winchester, Craig Tol- 
liver and his band had already assembled at 
Farmers, ready to play their part in the cowardly 
deed. Armed to the teeth, they were posted at 
and near the railway station, impatiently await- 
ing the arrival of the train. The night was dark 
and disagreeable, perfectly suited for a hold-up. 

Presently the flash of light pierces the gloom, 
the shriek of the engine whistle echoes mourn- 
fully through the night. The train bearing John 
Martin thunders toward the station. The air- 
brakes wheeze, the train slows up; the conductor 
cries " All out for Farm " He does not finish 
the call of the station. A pistol is thrust into his 
face. Armed men board the engine and cover 
the engineer and fireman. Others enter the coach 
in which Martin is sitting, handcuffed, utterly 
helpless, surrounded by Bowling and his confed- 

Martin sees the men enter and instinctively 
realizes that his end has come. He attempts to 
rise to his feet. Instantly shots are fired. Mar- 
tin sinks back upon his seat, lifeless, his " pro- 
tectors " calmly witnessing the murder. 

Martin's wife, in another coach, had up to this 
time believed her husband secure in his cell at 
Winchester. But the moment she heard the 
shots, unaccountable, undefinable dread seized 

134 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

her. Instinctively she rushed to the scene of 
the tragedy and found her suspicions realized. 
There lay the blood-covered body of her husband, 
literally torn to pieces and perforated with leaden 
messengers of death. All that the faithful, grief- 
stricken wife could do was to order the remains 
taken on to Morehead. Martin was buried amid 
a large concourse of sorrowing friends and rela- 
tives. The solemnity of the occasion accorded 
ill with the many suppressed, yet none the less 
ominous threats of terrible and swift punishment 
of the murderers. 

The news of the cowardly assassination spread 
like wildfire over the county. The war had be- 
gun in earnest. From the day John Martin's 
body was consigned to the grave, the angel of 
peace departed from Rowan County. For more 
than three years a reign of terror was to sweep 
over it with all its attendant horrors, cutting a 
wide path of desolation and misery. Deeds of 
violence now occurred at frequent intervals. All 
manner of crime went unpunished by the law. 
The whole machinery of the law was rotten, the 
officers of the courts being themselves partisans, 
in some instances very active as such. 

Mr. Young, the county attorney, was the first 
to feel the wrath of the Martin faction. While 
riding along the road on Christi Creek he was 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 135 

shot from ambush and painfully, but not fatally, 
wounded. The perpetrators of this deed were 
not definitely known, but Young's friends claimed 
to have certain information that the men who at- 
tempted his assassination had acted under in- 
structions from the Martin faction, which had 
openly accused Young of playing into the hands 
of the Tollivers, and had even gone so far as to 
allege that he had with them connived in the mur- 
der of John Martin. 

Whether he was or was not a Tolliver sym- 
pathizer, another murder committed soon after- 
wards was laid at the door of the Tollivers, to 
avenge, it was charged, the wounding of Mr. 
Young. Under the circumstances this gentleman 
determined to and did remove from the county 
where his life was evidently no longer safe. He 
located in an adjoining county. At the succeed- 
ing election his son was elected to the office his 
father had vacated. 

The murder above referred to was that of 
Stewart Baumgartner. Cook Humphrey, the 
Republican Sheriff, had appointed him a deputy. 
On the 1 7th day of March, 1885, Baumgartner 
rode along Christi Creek, when, almost at the 
identical spot where Mr. Young had been fired 
upon, he was shot and instantly killed from 
ambush. No one was ever indicted for that kill- 

136 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

ing, but it was generally believed, charged and 
never denied that Craig Tolliver's subordinates 
were the murderers. 

Shortly after the death of Baumgartner, and 
during the month of April, 1885, Cook 
Humphrey and a stranger, afterwards ascertained 
to have been Ed. Pierce of Greenup County, Ky., 
appeared on the streets of Morehead, heavily 
armed and followed by a number of Martin sym- 
pathizers. This act of defiance called forth bitter 
denunciation from the Tollivers and their friends, 
among whom was ex-Sheriff Day and Jeff Bow- 
ling, men of reckless courage. The leaders of 
the opposing factions assembled every available 
man, and provided them with arms. The most 
determined preparations were made to fight out 
their differences on the streets of Morehead. 
Humphrey's headquarters were at the Carey 
House, a hotel owned and operated by James 
Carey, an ex-captain of the Union army and a 
very influential citizen. The Tollivers occupied 
the Cottage Hotel near the Chesapeake & Ohio 
Railway depot, then owned by Dr. R. L. Rains. 
As quickly as possible a message was forwarded 
to Craig Tolliver, absent from Morehead at the 
time. He came, accompanied by a number of 
Tollivers from Elliott County. The battle opened 
fast and furious. A continuous fire from many 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 137 

guns kept the citizens of the town in terror for 
many hours. The balls whizzed through every 
portion of the ill-fated village. Storehouses and 
dwellings were riddled. None dared to enter the 
streets, or expose his body for an instant. 

The Carey House apparently bore the brunt 
of the firing. Hundreds of balls struck and shat- 
tered the slight frame structure. The Tollivers, 
beside superior numbers, had the advantage of 
position. Their marksmanship was better, too. 
Humphrey and his clan soon realized that a 
charge upon their position would mean their an- 
nihilation. So at an opportune moment the 
Carey House was abandoned and the Tollivers 
remained in undisputed control. 

In spite of the long-continued, heavy firing, 
an unremitting fusilade'of many hours' duration, 
there were no casualties. The battle, however, 
exercised such a terrifying influence over the 
peaceable citizens of the town that all that could 

Morehead, in fact the county, was now in a 
state of anarchy. The matter was reported to 
the Governor, who immediately ordered General 
John B. Castleman, then Adjutant General of 
Kentucky, to Morehead to investigate conditions 
there and to discover the causes of this shameful 
lawlessness. General Castleman, in company 

138 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

with others, went to Morehead and interviewed 
the adherents of the different factions and leading 
citizens of the county. This commission, on 
completing its mission, reported its findings to the 
Governor. The result was that the leading 
spirits in the feud were summoned to Louisville, 
Ky., where a compromise was patched up between 
the belligerents. Both sides pledged themselves 
to return home, to lay down their arms and to 
cease to molest each other. This proceeding 
brought into prominence H. M. Logan, Judge 
James Carey and Cook Humphrey as adherents 
of the Martin faction and Craig Tolliver, Dr. 
Jerry Wilson and others as the Tolliver faction 

The agreement entered into at Louisville, in- 
tended to restore peace, effected the opposite re- 
sult. It prevented prosecution of either side for 
the Morehead riot. The leniency extended by 
the authorities merely emboldened and encour- 
aged the warring parties the truce was violated 
by both sides within a short time after it had been 
agreed to. 

The factions charged each other with insin- 
cerity, of secretly maintaining armed bands and 
preparing for renewed hostilities. Within a few 
weeks after the compromise at Louisville, condi- 
tions in Rowan were as bad as ever, nay worse. 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 139 

As we have stated, the shooting of Young, the 
County Attorney, had been charged to the Mar- 
tin faction. In retaliation for this crime the Tol- 
livers had murdered Sheriff Humphrey's deputy, 
Baumgartner. Subsequent developments then 
seemed to directly implicate Cook Humphrey in 
the shooting of Young, and this led to a renewal 
of active hostilities. It appears that immediately 
after the treaty at Louisville, Ed. Pierce, the man 
who had so mysteriously appeared on the streets 
of Morehead in company with Cook Humphrey 
on the day of the riot, was arrested in Greenup 
County and taken to Bath County for trial on a 
charge of robbery. A jury found him guilty. 
He was sentenced to the penitentiary for a long 
term. While confined in jail previous to his trial, 
he admitted his participation in the shooting of 
Mr. Young, implicating also Ben Rayborn of 
Carter County, a man but little known in Rowan 
County. In his confession Pierce claimed to have 
been employed to kill Mr. Young by the sisters 
and family of John Martin, and that Sheriff 
Humphrey and Baumgartner, his deputy, had 
aided and assisted in arranging the details of the 

Humphrey and the Martins indignantly denied 
every word of Pierce's confession, and asserted 
that he had been bribed by Mr. Young to make 

140 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

it for the purpose of destroying the prestige of 
the Martin family in the county, and to furnish 
the excuse for further outrages. 

Humphrey and the Martin family were now 
put under constant surveillance by the Tollivers. 
The Martin homestead, situated about one mile 
from Morehead, became an object of special vigi- 
lance. Finally, on the evening of the 27tfy day of 
July, 1885, the Tolliver spies reported to their 
leader at Morehead that two men had been seen 
around the Martin home. Instantly everything 
was in commotion at the Tolliver headquarters. 
Craig Tolliver, Jeff Bowling, T. A. Day and 
others, all sworn enemies of the Martins, sur- 
rounded the homestead in the dark of night and 
remained on watch until morning. 

Shortly after daylight a stranger, afterwards 
recognized as Ben Rayborn, in company of Sue 
Martin, a young woman of much native sense and 
energy, emerged from the house and " robbed " 
a beehive in the yard without having discovered 
the enemy. Rayborn was heavily armed. His 
presence convinced the Tollivers that Cook 
Humphrey was in the house; they now deter- 
mined upon open attack. But to avoid possible 
failure of the plot it was deemed necessary to in- 
crease the force. A messenger was hurriedly dis- 
patched to Morehead. 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 141 

A short time afterwards the Tollivers had as- 
sembled a force of twenty-five or thirty men, 
among whom were many of the most violent men 
of Rowan County. 

At nine o'clock Craig Tolliver had stationed 
this force at every point of vantage. Then he 
and Bowling appeared at the front door with 
Winchester rifles gleaming in the sunlight. For 
the first time the inmates of the house seemed 
aware of the presence of the enemy. There was 
apparently no chance of escape. Every door was 
securely guarded. Tolliver was met at the door 
by the brave Martin girls who demanded an ex- 
planation for the intrusion. Tolliver demanded 
the surrender of Cook Humphrey and any other 
man or men that might be with him. The girls 
stoutly denied the presence of any one save the 
members of the family. Tolliver knew this to 
be false. With his own eyes he had seen Ray- 
born that morning. He charged the girls with 
duplicity and forced his way into the house. No 
one was found on the first floor. Then they at- 
tempted search of the upper story. At the stair- 
way a shotgun suddenly belched forth fire and 
flame into the faces of the Tollivers. Craig's 
face and part of his body was filled with shot, 
the gun stock shivered to pieces in his hand. He 
sank upon the steps and rolled helplessly at the 

142 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

feet of his companions. Bowling miraculously 
escaped unhurt. 

Craig Tolliver was immediately placed upon 
a horse and sent to Morehead for repairs. The 
others, not daring to force the stairway, went 
outside and contented themselves with firing 
through the doors and windows. The fusilade 
continued incessantly for a long time. Black 
smoke hung like a cloud over the premises. If 
the Tollivers hoped to force the surrender of 
Humphrey and his companion by mere intim- 
idation, they soon saw their mistake. These two 
men were brave to the core. Besides, they pre- 
ferred to die fighting rather to being mercilessly 
butchered as helpless prisoners. They remem- 
bered the fate of John Martin. 

Finally Humphrey managed to make himself 
heard through the din and crash of battle. He 
informed his assailants that he was there in the 
house and that by virtue of his office as sheriff 
of the county none but the coroner had the legal 
right to arrest him. The Tollivers sneered at this 
speech. They had not come to uphold the law; 
they had succeeded in trapping the enemy, and 
meant to use the advantage they had gained. 
Hours thus passed. All day the guns roared into 
and from the house. The sun was sinking rap- 
idly toward the western horizon; the shades of 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 143 

evening grew longer. As long as daylight lasted 
the assailants had kept covered and protected, 
held at bay by the brave defenders. But in the 
dark of night, the end must come. They could 
not prevent a simultaneous attack from the en- 
tire force of the assailants. Surrounded on 
every side, escape seemed well-nigh impossible. 
Yet Humphrey essayed to make a sortie with his 
companion, hoping thereby to draw the fire of 
the enemy upon themselves and to thus at least 
relieve the women in the house of further danger 
of death which had threatened them every mo- 
ment throughout that long day. It was a des- 
perate undertaking, with ninety-nine chances in 
a hundred against its success. But Humphrey 
was brave, and so was Rayborn. As expected, 
the instant they emerged from the house a shower 
of balls greeted them. They ran for their lives. 
Rayborn sank, rose and fell again, to rise no 
more. His body was riddled. Humphrey, how- 
ever, seemed possessed of a charmed life. 
Though his clothing was torn to shreds, his body 
received not a scratch. 

Satisfied now that there were no more men in 
the house, the Tolliver clan crowned their in- 
famous day's work by setting fire to it. The in- 
mates escaped without even necessary clothing. 
The body of Rayborn was left lying where it 

144 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

had fallen until the next day, protected from 
mutilation by dogs and hogs by a rail pen which 
had been built around it by the heroic Martin 

The excitement that prevailed in the county 
when the news of the cowardly attack upon the 
Martin home became known, can better be imag- 
ined than described. The lover of law and order 
was terror-stricken. The question was asked in 
whispers " Where will it all end ? " The County 
Judge was a well-meaning man, but utterly in- 
competent as an officer, possessing none of the 
qualifications for such an office in a county like 
Rowan at such a time of lawlessness and anarchy. 
He was weak and timid. Always in fear for his 
life, he completely lost his head. 

Warrants were at last issued upon the affidavits 
of the Martin girls against Craig Tolliver, Jeff 
Bowling and a number of others, charging them 
with murder and arson. An examining trial fol- 
lowed. At that time such trials were held before 
two justices of the peace. One was said to be 
a Martin sympathizer ; the other stood accused of 
being under the thumb of the Tollivers. 

The court's decision gave color to these sus- 
picions. One of the magistrates decided for com- 
mitment of the prisoners to jail without bail; the 
other declared that no offense had been proven. 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 145 

Under the law then existing this disagreement of 
the court permitted the murderers to go free. 

The trial was a pronounced farce. After- 
wards some of the parties were indicted by the 
grand jury for arson, but none was convicted and 
the murder charges against them all fell. 

Jeff Bowling, one of the most desperate of the 
Tolliver faction, removed from the county of 
Rowan a short time afterward, and settled in 
Ohio, where he continued his career of crime, 
evidently believing that there, as well as in Ken- 
tucky, none dared molest him. He saw his mis- 
take too late. 

It appears that his mother-in-law had married 
a wealthy farmer named Douglas, of Licking 
County, Ohio. It had been due to the persuasion 
of Douglas that Bowling left Kentucky and 
settled in or near his Ohio kinsman. Bowling 
had resided there but a short time when Douglas 
was found one morning in his barn murdered. 
The ringer of suspicion pointed to Bowling as 
the only one who had a tangible motive for the 
commission of the crime. He was promptly in- 
dicted, tried and sentenced to death, but the sen- 
tence was finally commuted to life imprisonment. 
He served seven years of his time and moved to 

Humphrey, after his miraculous escape from 

146 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

the Martin house, had become thoroughly con- 
vinced that it was impossible for him to longer 
continue in the office of sheriff and resigned, 
William Ramey being appointed and qualified in 
his stead. 

Craig Tolliver for a time absented himself from 
Rowan County. He turned up in jail at Cincin- 
nati, imprisoned on the charge of robbery. He 
was tried, acquitted and returned to Rowan 
County, when trouble started anew. 

Several killings occurred in the county during 
the year, some of which had, however, only re- 
mote connection with the feud. John G. Hughes 
was killed by a mob styling themselves " regu- 
lators." Wiley Tolliver, son of L. H. B. Tolliver, 
was killed about Christmas, 1885, by one Mack 
Bentley, during a drunken row. 

Early in 1886, the murder of Whit Pelfrey, at 
Elliottsville, Rowan County, came near precipitat- 
ing another outbreak. He was stabbed and 
killed by Tom Goodan, brother of S. B. Goodan, 
a prominent Tolliver man and brother-in-law of 
Jay, Bud and Wiley Tolliver. Pelfrey, known as 
a strong Martin sympathizer, was an influential 
citizen and wealthy. Goodan was tried for this 
murder, but acquitted. 

The year 1886 brought with it an annual elec- 
tion at which all county officers were to be chosen. 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 147 

Each faction had its candidates in the field. It 
may, therefore, be easily imagined that neutral 
citizens remained in a state of constant anxiety 
and apprehension. 

Cook Humphrey and Craig Tolliver roamed 
through the county at the head of large forces, 
frequently entering the town of Morehead and 
parading the streets in defiance of each other. 

On July 2nd, 1886, it being County Court day, 
a warrant of arrest was placed in the hands of 
Sheriff Ramey for the arrest of Humphrey, who 
was in town that day. The officer went in search 
of and found him near the store of H. M. Logan. 
An altercation ensued between the men, both 
drew their pistols and began firing. Friends of 
both parties became involved and the shooting 
became general. When the fight was over it was 
found that the sheriff and his son and deputy, 
were both dangerously wounded, while W. O. 
Logan, H. M. Logan's son, a youth hardly twenty 
years of age, was killed. 

Immediately after the fight the factions retired 
to their headquarters and prepared for another 
conflict. The County Judge was prevailed upon 
to demand troops. His request was readily 
granted and a detachment of State Guards, com- 
manded by Major K. W. McKee of Lawrence- 
burg, hastened to the scene of the trouble. 

148 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

When July 3rd came, the citizens, women and 
children, trembled with fear of a bloody conflict. 
At the quarters of the factions guns and pistols 
were cleaned, oiled and loaded, cartridge belts 
filled every preparation made for battle. 

Then the long-drawn notes of a bugle floated 
in the morning air the astonished people peered 
through the windows and beheld in the court 
house yard a long line of soldiers, their guns and 
bayonets glistening in the morning sun. There 
was a sigh of relief danger had passed for the 

The troops remained at Morehead until some 
time in August. It was due to their presence 
that the election passed off without violence and 
bloodshed. When Circuit Court convened, the 
Commonwealth was represented by the Honorable 
Asher C. Caruth, Commonwealth Attorney of the 
Jefferson Circuit Court, and afterwards member 
of Congress from the Louisville District. 

As at this time practically every citizen in the 
county was aligned on one side or the other, it 
seemed impossible to secure juries that would 
try cases impartially and without prejudice. This 
state of affairs did not escape the attention of Mr. 
Caruth. The result of his investigations of af- 
fairs in Rowan County resulted in a nolle pro- 
sequis, qualified by certain conditions, of the 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 149 

charges against the Tollivers and Humphrey. 
His proceeding in this respect is contained in the 
following report to Judge Cole, presiding judge 
of the Circuit Court: 

Hon. A. E. Cole, 

Judge of the Rowan Circuit Court. 

Under your appointment I have acted as Com- 
monwealth Attorney pro tempore at the special 
July and present August term of the Rowan 
Circuit Court. I have given the felony docket, 
over which alone, under the present law, I have 
jurisdiction, careful study and attention. I have 
also investigated as thoroughly as a stranger to 
the people of Rowan County could do in the lim- 
ited time of my service, the causes which led to 
the present unhappy condition of affairs, and 
have sought to find a remedy for the evils afflict- 
ing this people. 

I find it to be the opinion of the law-abiding 
citizens of all parties that the public peace could 
be best secured by the continued absence from 
the county of Rowan of the acknowledged and 
recognized leaders of the two rival factions 
Craig Tolliver and Cook Humphrey. Against 
the former there is now pending one felony 
charge, that of false arrest and imprisonment. 
Against Humphrey there are three indictments 
for felony on the docket, each for conspiring, 
etc., to commit personal violence. I have the 
written request of each of these persons accused 
to suspend further proceedings in their cases, 

1 50 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

coupled with a promise on the part of each to 
leave the county of Rowan never to return un- 
less, temporarily, to attend the funeral of some 
immediate relative. * * * The persons 
charged to have been injured by their acts also 
request this disposition of the pending cases. It 
is the opinion of the members of the grand jury 
now in session, and of the vast majority of the 
citizens of the county, that this disposition of the 
cases will do much to restore peace and confidence 
to the community. After full consultation with 
the members of the bar residing here or prac- 
tising here, with the commander of the forces 
now stationed at the county seat, and with citi- 
zens of high position and authority in the Com- 
monwealth, and considering the uncertainty of 
the criminal trials, I am convinced that this is 
the best available method to secure the end in 
view. No harm can, by this means, be done the 
State, because, should the agreement be violated, 
the cases can at once be set for trial and prosecu- 
tions made. 

The following written agreements were then 
signed and attested: 

Asher G. Caruth, 

Commonwealth's Attorney pro tempore, 

I4th Judicial District : 

I request you to suspend any further proceed- 
jmgs in the cases now pending in the Rowan Cir- 
cuit Court against me, and promise that I will 
remain away from the county of Rowan perma- 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 151 

nently. Should I ever return to said county I 
am willing that the cases shall be redocketed and 
the trials proceed. I will leave said county on 
or before the 8th day of August, A. D. 1886. In 
this agreement I reserve the right, in the event 
of the death of any of my immediate relatives, 
to return to attend their burial, but I must im- 
mediately thereafter leave the county to perma- 
nently remain away. 


Attest : D. B. Logan. 

A similar agreement was prepared and signed 
by W. C. Humphrey, attested by G. A. Cassidy. 

We do not wish to criticise Mr. Caruth's course 
in this matter, but it occurs to us, and must occur 
to the reader, that the practice of compromising 
with outlaws proves a weak-kneed administration 
of the law. It seems that a man or set of men 
may terrorize a community as pleases them, then 
demand of the authorities immunity for crimes, 
on certain conditions prescribed by the criminals. 
Mr. Caruth acted for the best interests of the 
community, as he believed. Aware that juries 
were partial or prejudiced, he realized that trials 
in Rowan County of either of the factions would 
result in injustice one way or another. The 
Grand Juries were corrupt and accustomed to 
wreak vengeance on some and whitewashing 
others. The selection of trial juries was so pal- 

1 52 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

pably unfair that visiting lawyers commented 
upon it and afterward testified before the legis- 
lative committee to that fact. Several court offi- 
cers were undisguised partisans. It seems to us, 
however, that these cases might have been re- 
moved from the county and tried elsewhere upon 
a change of venue. At any rate, the compromise 
effected by Mr. Caruth proved not only unsatis- 
factory, but ill-advised.^ The success of his 
scheme was founded upon the belief that the 
parties to the agreement would adhere to the 
pledge to leave the county. He did not under- 
stand the character of Craig Tolliver. To secure 
his signature to an agreement that would put an 
enemy out of his way was one thing, to make 
him keep it, another. Tolliver remained absent 
from Morehead long enough to assure himself 
that the indictments against him were dismissed, 
when he promptly returned. Although the com- 
promise was based upon the understanding that 
if either returned except under the conditions re- 
cited in the agreement that the indictments against 
the party so returning .should be redocketed and 
revived, this was never done. Tolliver was free 
to continue his career of crime. Humphrey kept 
his word, and never violated his pledge. He sold 
out his earthly possessions in Rowan County and 
bade farewell to his native State. 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 153 

Previous to his election as sheriff Humphrey 
had been a highly esteemed citizen, a man of 
exemplary character, of amiable disposition. His 
fatal connection with the feud was mainly due 
to his unfortunate selection of Stewart Baum- 
gartner as his deputy. The latter was a citizen of 
Elliott County, where he had a reputation for vio- 
lence and desperation. Pursuing the same course 
in Rowan, Humphrey's association with him 
made him many enemies. Baumgartners connec- 
tion with the Martin faction compromised 
Humphrey; thus step by step he was thrown into 
the whirlpool of trouble. The formerly quiet, in- 
offensive citizen grew dangerous and violent ; the 
dormant, unholy passion of revenge was aroused. 
Humphrey became for the time being a character 
dreaded by those that opposed him. At the time 
of his participation in the feud he was yet in his 
twenties and unmarried. After leaving Ken- 
tucky he went West, never to return to his native 
heath until after the death of Craig Tolliver 
and his followers, and then only on special busi- 

With Humphrey gone, the Martin faction prac- 
tically disbanded. Had Tolliver observed the 
treaty stipulations as faithfully and honestly as 
did Humphrey, this chapter might end here. The 
writer would be spared the unpleasant task of 

154 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

continuing the record of violence, murder and 
anarchy. It is evident that Tolliver had entered 
into this agreement with the avowed purpose of 
violating it. He had every reason to believe that 
Humphrey would observe it. He out of the way, 
there stood no one to dispute Tolliver' s undisputed 
sway in the county, especially at Morehead. His 
adherents remained faithful and joined him. 
They did as they pleased, in fact had things their 
own way. If the authorities did not dare molest 
them, who should? A few of the citizens who 
had attempted a mild protest against Craig Tol- 
liver's dictatorship, were easily intimidated by 
keeping them in constant fear of death or de- 
struction of their property. 

Saloons were opened and operated without 
license. Magistrates refused to issue warrants, 
knowing that such an act would forfeit their lives. 
Had the warrants been issued, no officers could 
have been persuaded to execute them. The resi- 
dences and grog shops of the Tollivers resembled 
and were arsenals. An effective and favorite 
method of Craig Tolliver to rid himself of any, 
to him, undesirable citizens, was to send a written 
communication to them, setting forth the fact 
that Rowan County could dispense with their 
presence, and that on a certain day in the near 
future certain funerals would take place unless 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 155 

they were gone from the county. A funeral is 
not a pleasant function at any time, and the pros- 
pect of one's own set for a definite time, has a ten- 
dency with many persons to try hard to avoid 
it, if possible. It was, therefore, not surprising 
that parties thus notified preferred absence from 
the county to being principals at funerals. A few 
regarded those letters as idle and meaningless 
threats, but the sincerity of the advice could no 
longer be doubted or questioned when several 
prophesied funerals did take place. 

To detail the circumstances of the various kill- 
ings that occurred during that stormy period of 
Rowan County would prove tedious. Suffice it 
to say, that from the first Monday in August, 
1884, to the 22nd of July, 1887, twenty-three 
men were killed in Rowan County. No convic- 
tions were secured for any of these murders. But 
of this later on. 

On October 2oth, 1886, H. M. Logan was shot 
from ambush in the streets of Morehead, while 
walking from his place of business to his resi- 
dence. The wound was dangerous but not fatal. 

Judge Carey came in for a full share of the 
enemy's hatred and vengeance. His hotel was 
frequently fired into at night by parties armed 
with needle guns and large calibre Winchesters. 
His house assumed the appearance of having been 

156 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

struck by a cyclone. Windows and doors had 
been completely shot away and the walls per- 
forated in a thousand places. It required neither 
doors nor windows to admit daylight. 

The Exchange Hotel shared a similar fate. It 
was managed by H. C. Powers, another 
Humphrey adherent. 

This kind of argument was convincing, more 
forcible than words or letters. Powers and Carey 
both felt a sudden desire to remove from the at- 
mosphere of Morehead, concluding that Coving- 
ton, Kentucky, possessed greater allurements for 
the time being than did their home town. Both 
remained away from the county until after the 
bloody, final battle at Morehead in 1887. Un- 
fortunately, we have no authentic account of the 
leave-taking between the Tollivers and Carey and 
Powers. It must have been very affectionate, 
since the Tollivers had exhibited such concern for 
their safety, comfort and health as to persuade 
them so urgently to remove to a happier and 
better land. 

Howard Logan (H. M.) too, had enough of 
this joke about funeral predictions. He could 
not see the point of it, and concluded that Ash- 
land, on the banks of the beautiful Ohio, would be 
the proper place to recover from his labors and 
see the world. He also remained away until after 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 157 

the annihilation of the Tollivers. There were a 
number of others who seemed suddenly seized 
with a fever to emigrate. Among them were 
John R. Powers, James E. Clark, a prominent 
lawyer, who found a more congenial home at 
Unionville, Clark County, Missouri ; James Brain, 
a brother-in-law of Judge Carey; R. C. 
Humphrey, brother of Cook Humphrey; both of 
whom settled in Missouri. Many others 
" scouted " in neighboring counties until the re- 
turn of peace. Judge Tussey, brother-in-law of 
the murdered John Martin, on the advice and 
persuasion of his wife, remained absent in Carter 
County and returned only to take part in the 
final drama. 

Nearly all of the parties who were thus driven 
from the county, were men of wealth and busi- 
ness capacity. Removals continued. The mag- 
nitude of the exodus may be realized by examin- 
ing the figures giving the population of the 
county seat, Morehead, from 1885 unt ^ tne early 
part of 1887. In 1885 Morehead was a flour- 
ishing town of more than seven hundred inhabi- 
tants. Within two years this figure was reduced 
to less than three hundred. More than half the 
population had removed. Private residences and 
storehouses stood empty, with windows nailed 
up or were taken possession of by the Tollivers 

158 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

whenever it suited their fancy. The Tollivers 
made up the population. The offices of police 
judge and town marshal were filled by Tollivers. 
On June 1st, 1887, Craig Tolliver had the entire 
town under absolute control. He was elected 
police judge without opposition. He did a driv- 
ing business, selling whiskey, without license, of 
course. The law as to obtaining license to sell 
liquor applied not to him. He was above the law. 
He took possession of the Exchange Hotel, which 
H. C. Powers had left without a tenant, by right 
of conquest. Why should he have troubled him- 
self with renting property when houses stood 
empty, and he was monarch of the town! The 
property of his enemies was his the spoils of 

The Central Hotel was placed at the disposal 
of Tolliver by its owner; the former leased it to 
Bunk Mannin and his brother, Jim Mannin. 
These two were Craig Tolliver's constant asso- 
ciates. He had brought them from Elliott 
County. Knowing their reputation as desper- 
adoes, he created them his body-guard. Bunk 
Mannin, bloodthirsty, brutal, but courageous, be- 
lieved he could serve his chieftain best by captur- 
ing the office of town marshal. He set himself 
up as candidate and was elected without a whisper 
of opposition. As town marshal and hotel keeper, 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 159 

he opened a saloon at the Central Hotel, operat- 
ing it in the manner of the one run by Craig Tol- 
liver, in violation of the law. Bud Tolliver was 
made a member of the town council. Craig Tol- 
liver's triumph was now complete. The midnight 
carousals, the continuous discharges of Winches- 
ter rifles and pistols, made night hideous. Per- 
sons of unquestionable courage grew nervous. 
At this period the exodus of the inhabitants was 

Social functions were out of the question. 
Adjutant-General Hill says in his report to the 
Governor, after the final battle of July, 1887: 

" One night while I was there the young people 
of Morehead had a social at the home of a prom- 
inent citizen, and I was told that it was the first 
event of the kind which had occurred in the little 
town for years." 

The Tollivers controlled the court and the 
grand juries. A witness daring enough to indict 
them for their many offences was certain to be 
indicted for some imaginary offense in return 
for his audacity. Thus during one court, shortly 
after the " shooting up " of the Carey House, 
two daughters of Howard Logan testified before 
the grand jury and indicted one Dr. Wilson for 
participating in the riot. The same evening the 

160 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

grand jury returned indictments against the two 
young ladies for " false swearing." 

The secrets of the grand jury leaked con- 
stantly. Every word of testimony uttered before 
it was promptly and minutely reported to the Tol- 
livers. Mrs. Martin, who had been a witness 
against them on several charges, was indicted for 
sending a poisoned turkey to a Tolliver sym- 
pathizer. Is it a wonder that Attorney-General 
Hardin stigmatized the whole machinery of jus- 
tice in the county as " rotten " ? Is it a wonder 
that crime was rampant and of daily occurrence ? 
Is it a wonder that outraged manhood at last 
took the law in its own hand and annihilated the 
outlaws ? 

Sometime in the latter part of 1886, or early 
part of 1887, H. M. Keeton, constable of More- 
head precinct, was shot and killed by Bud Tol- 
liver. Keeton, too, had been duly served with 
notice of the date of his funeral. Remaining in 
the county, he furnished the body. 

W. N. Wicher was shot and killed by John 
Trumbo, a Tolliver man. 

At the February term of the Rowan Circuit 
Court (1887) Dr. Henry S. Logan, R. M. Mc- 
Clure, John B. and W. H. Logan and Lewis Ray- 
born, were indicted for conspiracy to murder 
Circuit Court Judge A. E. Cole, James H. Sallee, 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 161 

Commonwealth's Attorney, and Z. T. Young. 
All the parties indicted were prominent citizens 
and of such a character that those not prejudiced 
against, and acquainted with them, at once de- 
clared the charges false. The entire transaction 
bore the ear-marks of a shrewdly laid plot to rid 
the county of these men, who had become ob- 
jectionable to Czar Craig Tolliver because they 
had dared to criticise his rule. The indicted 
parties were arrested and confined in jail, their 
bail having been placed at an exorbitant sum. 
They were hustled off to Lexington for " safe- 
keeping." John B. and W. H. Logan gave bond 
and returned to their home, about four miles dis- 
tant from Morehead. Their father remained in 

When it became known that James Pelfrey was 
the chief witness against them, it seemed easy to 
see through the whole affair. Pelfrey's black 
character was well-known by some of the Tolliver 
clan, and to this unscrupulous man they had 
turned to effect their villainous conspiracy. A 
suitable story was concocted and rehearsed. 
With it Pelfrey appeared before the grand jury, 
and loaded upon his sin-stained soul the dastardly, 
black crime of perjury. After their return home 
the Logan boys lived quietly and alone, taking 
charge of the farm in their father's absence. W. 

l62 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

H. Logan (Billy) was a consumptive, twenty-five 
years old, and almost reduced to a skeleton by 
the dread disease. His brother, J. B. Logan 
(Jack) was a youth of eighteen. 

On the 7th of June, 1887, a disreputable char- 
acter named Hiram Cooper, who lived in the 
neighborhood of the Logan boys, came to More- 
head and swore out a warrant against the Logan 
boys and their cousin, A. W. Logan, charging 
them with confederating and banding together 
for the purpose of murdering him (Cooper). 
This act was in pursuance of the original plot to 
rid the county of the family, which, however, had 
failed to some extent when the boys had suc- 
ceeded in giving bail and were released from 

Craig Tolliver, the police judge, issued the 
warrants. They were placed in the hands of his 
confederate, Town Marshal Bunk Mannin, who 
summoned a posse of ten men to assist him in 
the execution of the warrants against the two 
boys. Among these brave officers were Deputy 
Sheriff George Hogg, Bud Tolliver, Jay Tolliver, 
Cal Tolliver, Hiram Cooper and one Young. 

Completely ignorant of the impending danger, 
the boys were found at home. The first warning 
they had of the approach of the assassins, under 
the guise of officers, was the rapid firing of guns. 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 163 

The boys, terrified, ran up-stairs, Mannin and 
Craig Tolliver rushing after them. Jack Logan 
seized a shotgun, and over the earnest protest of 
his brother Billy, fired into the body of Mannin, 
inflicting a painful, but, unfortunately, not fatal 
wound. Mannin and Craig Tolliver retreated 
from the house, while the boys waited tremblingly, 
with bated breath, for developments. They saw 
there was no hope for them. The smell of burn- 
ing wood and clouds of smoke told them of their 
peril. By order of Judge Tolliver the posse comi- 
tatus had built a fire on the porch intending to 
burn the house, and thus force the boys to come 
out. The crackling of flames, the shouts and 
cruel, derisive laughter of the brutal band out- 
side presented a scene such as we read of with 
horror in the stories of the Indian wars. Deputy 
Sheriff Hogg then requested permission to ex- 
tinguish the flames. The other " representatives 
of the law " consenting, a parley was held. Hogg 
went into the house and offered the boys the 
alternative of surrender or death by fire. They 
naturally chose the former, hoping against hope 
that some miracle might yet save them, or that, 
perhaps, their appearing unarmed, might move 
the band with compassion and mercy. However, 
before leaving the house, they wished assurance 
that their lives should be protected. Deputy 

164 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

Sheriff Hogg reported to Craig Tolliver, and 
that redoubtable officer of the Commonwealth 
authorized him to promise them protection. This 
assurance was then communicated to the boys, 
supplemented by the personal guaranty of Sheriff 
Hogg. The boys determined to leave the house. 

Billy Logan went down-stairs in company of 
Hogg. The younger boy was yet reluctant to 
trust himself into the hands of Craig Tolliver 
and Bunk Mannin, the town marshal, but being 
again assured that no harm should come to him, 
he, too, followed and emerged into the yard. 
They were led away some fifty feet from the 
house to near a spring. There John Mannin 
opened fire upon the elder boy, shooting him in 
the back. This was the signal for a general 
fusilade by Craig Tolliver, Bunk Mannin and 
others. The boys fell dead. Not satisfied with 
their deaths, the heartless assassins, among whom 
Town Marshal Mannin was the most ferocious, 
trampled the prostrate forms, stamped them, and 
poured volley after volley into the dead bodies, 
thus mutilating them beyond recognition. 

They were left lying where they had fallen, 
a gory, shapeless mass, the glassy eyes upturned 
to the sky, in mute appeal to God to avenge this 
horrible assassination. God saw, and retribution 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 165 

followed close upon the heels of the inhuman 

Deputy Sheriff Hogg testified afterwards that 
he ran away as soon as the firing began. The 
murderers joined him, however, before he had 
reached town. On the brow of a hill overlooking 
Morehead Craig Tolliver halted the red-handed 
band and instructed them all to tell the same tale 
that the boys were killed in resisting arrest, 
and that their killing had been an absolute neces- 

On the following day D. Boone Logan, a cousin 
of the murdered boys, accompanied by H. M. 
(Hiram) Pigman and Ap. Perry, went to the 
Logan homestead, and found and cared for the 
mangled remains of his relatives. On that even- 
ing, upon their return home, they were warned 
that they would share a similar fate in the event 
they attended the funeral. 

Up to the time of the murder of the Logan 
boys neither D. Boone Logan nor Pigman had 
taken any active part in the feudal strife, indeed 
they had carefully kept aloof from any act or 
speech that might in any way connect them either 
directly or indirectly with the faction. Boone 
Logan had attested the agreement signed by Craig 
Tolliver to remove from the county. But be- 
yond this he had remained neutral. Not con- 

1 66 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

tent, however, with foully murdering his young 
relatives, Craig Tolliver sent to Boone Logan the 
exasperating message that he must leave, that he, 
Tolliver, would rent his house, and hire Logan's 
wife out to make a living for her children. By 
threatening D. B. Logan, Craig Tolliver made 
the mistake of his life. He conjured up a storm 
which passed soon beyond his power to control. 
When it broke loose in all its fury on the 22nd 
day of June, and the streets of Morehead ran red 
with blood, the desperadoes experienced at last 
the lash of an avenging God. 

Boone Logan made futile efforts to have the 
murderers arrested. After several days had 
elapsed, Bunk Mannin, the town marshal, went 
to Logan and told him that he wished to have a 
trial, and that the Tollivers were also ready for 
trial. " But," said Mannin, " it must be under- 
stood that we attend court with our Winches- 
ters." Judge Stewart was also notified by the 
Tollivers that they wished a trial, to which re- 
quest Judge Stewart made answer that he " would 
not hold a bogus trial " and refused to try the 

Logan, Pigman and Ap. Perry, in danger of 
their lives, yet burning with indignation, entered 
into a solemn compact to effect the arrest and 
trial of all the parties engaged in the murder of 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 167 

the Logan boys. A resolution made by such men 
as Boone Logan and his friends meant something 
more than mere words. They, too, were men of 
action. They went to work in the preparation of 
their plan with coolness and circumspection. 
Caution was needed indeed. They first attached 
to their cause a number of men upon whom they 
could rely. Meetings were held at secret places. 
Boone Logan was at once chosen as the leader 
in the enterprise. In the prime of manhood, of 
fine physique and intelligent, he was just the man 
to place at the head of such a hazardous under- 
taking. Combining indomitable courage with 
prudence, sagacity and coolness, he was also a 
man of unflinching determination. Such was the 
man with whom the Tollivers now had to deal. 
Educated, a lawyer of prominence, and a polished, 
quiet gentleman, one would scarcely have picked 
him out as the man to oppose the outlaws, to 
attack them in their very stronghold and give 
them battle. 

Logan and Pigman avoided being seen in each 
other's company, yet the Tollivers by some means 
had learned of their secret meetings, and, grow- 
ing suspicious, began hunting them high and low. 
To relate the many narrow escapes these two men 
had from death would fill pages. Every road 
was patrolled by the Tollivers, passing trains were 

1 68 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

searched, inquiries made everywhere, and insult- 
ing messages sent to Logan's family. Shrewdly 
he avoided any encounter, but with dogged de- 
termination continued his preparations. 

On the 1 6th day of June Boone Logan eluded 
the vigilance of the Tollivers and succeeded in 
reaching Frankfort, Ky., where he asked for, and 
was accorded, an interview with Governor Knott. 
To him Logan related the existing conditions in 
Rowan County, the despotism exercised by Craig 
Tolliver and his associates in crime, the horrible 
murder of the Logan boys, for which no one had 
as yet been molested, and asked for troops to 
effect the capture of the outlaws. The Governor 
listened attentively to Mr. Logan's representa- 
tions, but replied that he had already sent soldiers 
to Morehead at the cost of many thousands of 
dollars to the State, with no other result than 
aiding courts in committing travesties of justice; 
that under the circumstances he could not see his 
way clear to repeat his experiences with that 
county. He then asked Logan what per cent of 
the population was actually engaged in the trouble, 
and on receiving reply, answered that the good 
citizens being so largely in the majority, they 
should be able to themselves put down lawlessness. 
Logan admitted that he could find a number of 
citizens who would be willing to aid him in ar- 

Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 169 

resting the outlaws if they could secure the neces- 
sary arms. He asked the Governor for the loan 
of a few guns from the arsenal at Frankfort, of- 
fering to give satisfactory security for their safe 
return. The Governor explained that such a 
course was unwarranted and a matter beyond 
his control. Logan's face turned almost livid for 
a moment. He did not blame the Governor, who 
acted under the law. But he became exasperated 
at the thought that a band of murderers were 
under the law permitted to remain in undisputed 
possession of his county, his home, while the 
Governor seemed without authority to come to 
the rescue of order and to maintain the dignity of 
the law. Courts had refused to do their duty; 
officers championed openly the cause of the mur- 
derers; peaceable citizens had been driven from 
their homes -anarchy reigned supreme. These 
thoughts filled his brain. Before his mind's eye 
appeared the mangled remains of his cousins. 
He feared for his wife and children at More- 
head. His home might at this moment be re- 
duced to ashes and its inmates burned or shot. 
The young man's eyes gleamed with a dangerous 
fire. His lips quivered while the strong heart 
beat almost audibly with excitement, indignation 
and utter disgust. At last he spoke, slowly, 
firmly, every word full of meaning. It was then 

170 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

he made his famous reply, so often repeated and 
commented upon : 

"Governor," he said, " I have but one home 
and but one hearth. From this I have been driven 
by these outlaws and their friends. They have 
foully murdered my kinsmen. I have not before 
engaged in any of their difficulties but now I 
propose to take a hand and retake my fireside or 
die in the effort." 

Future events proved that these words were 
uttered for a purpose other than mere dramatic 
effect. The flashing eye told plainly of the pas- 
sions that had been kindled in his heart, and the 
Governor could not but admire the man's just 
indignation and determination to do what the 
highest authorities in the State could not do. 

The action of Governor Knott in refusing to 
send troops to Rowan County has been criticised 
by those ignorant of the law and the powers of 
the Governor in such cases. The law lays down 
the scope of his authority. The power of the 
county had not been exhausted in bringing about, 
or attempting, the apprehension of the criminals. 
He had already responded with troops to protect 
the court only to find that the authorities showed 
the white feather; that compromises with crim- 
inals had been entered into ; that juries and offi- 
cers were corrupt, and when trials had occurred 

The Tolliver-Martin-Logan Vendetta 171 

had proved a farce. No doubt in his heart he 
wished for Logan's success. The man had made 
futile attempts to live peaceably. Now he in- 
tended to act in self-defense. The government 
cannot help him he must therefore help himself. 
A man's home, no matter how humble it may 
be, is sacred as the King's palace in the eyes of 
the ancient common law. To defend it from in- 
trusion and attack is man's God-given right, his 
duty; Boone Logan set about to retake his fire- 


JUNE 22ND, 1887. 

AFTER leaving Frankfort, Logan hastened to 
Cincinnati, Ohio, where he purchased several hun- 
dred dollars' worth of Winchester rifles, pistols, 
shotguns, and an ample supply of ammunition. 
These were boxed and shipped as saw-mill fix- 
tures, and consigned to a small station (Gate's) 
in Rowan County, some miles from Morehead. 

Immediately upon his return to Rowan County 
Logan summoned his friends. They responded 
with a will. Many came from the neighboring 
counties, except Elliott County, which section 
sympathized strongly with the Tollivers, whose 
relatives were strong there. Sheriff Hogg was 
placed in possession of the warrants against Craig 
Tolliver and his confederates, charging them with 
the recent murders of the Logan boys (June 7th). 
It was definitely and explicitly agreed upon and 
arranged that the sheriff should demand the sur- 
render of the Tollivers, and only in case of their 
refusal to comply were the citizens to take a hand. 
This, of course, was a mere matter of form. It 


Final Battle of Morehead 173 

was easy to predict to a certainty that the Tol- 
livers would not obey the demand of. surrender 
by the officers. That had been tried too often 
before. Yet the Logan faction desired to exhaust 
all lawful means before resorting to bloodshed. 

Sheriff Hogg was instructed to demand the 
surrender and upon its refusal to retreat in order 
to insure his personal safety, and to give the 
forces under Boone Logan an opportunity to en- 
force the demand. 

Thus far all went well. When the morning 
of June 22nd came, bright and beautiful, every- 
thing was in readiness for the coming struggle. 

Logan, with some of his men, was stationed 
near the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Depot. Just 
across, at the business place of Vinton & Pigman, 
Hiram Pigman, with six or seven men, stood in 
readiness to act in concert with Logan. On the 
opposite side of the town another detachment was 
carefully posted in concealment. The Tollivers 
were completely surrounded. 

Strange to say, with all their vigilance, they 
had remained in utter ignorance of Logan's final 
preparations. Logan was despised by them. His 
frequent absences from home had been attributed 
to fear. Of his visit to Frankfort and his pur- 
chase of arms at Cincinnati they knew nothing. 

It was late in the morning of the 22nd, when 

174 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

an accident revealed to them their danger, though 
the knowledge came too late to enable their es- 
cape. The wife of a railroad man was visiting 
friends at Morehead. Her husband had noticed 
bodies of armed men closing in upon the town. 
He also knew of the large shipment of arms to 
Gate's station. Anxious for the safety of his 
wife, after his suspicions had been aroused, he 
telegraphed her to leave Morehead at once, that 
a battle was impending without doubt. This in- 
formation was conveyed to the Tollivers, who 
immediately prepared for the attack. Thus it 
happened that when the battle commenced, Logan 
and his men were put upon the defensive instead 
of the offensive, as they had anticipated. 

The Logan forces awaited the appearance of 
the sheriff to demand the surrender of the Tolli- 
vers. He failed to arrive. The sheriff after- 
ward testified that he had been prevented by 
armed men from entering the town. Be that as 
it may, the fight opened without him, and during 
the battle neither he nor his son participated. 

Logan, unaware that his plans had been be- 
trayed to the Tollivers, attempted to communi- 
cate with his friend Pigman at the latter's store. 
He despatched a young man, William Bryant, 
with a note. To his surprise, the Tollivers sud- 
denly appeared, armed to the teeth, and opened 

Final Battle of Morehead .175 

fire upon Bryant. The boy fled for life and es- 
caped without a wound. 

Logan and Pigman, finding their plans discov- 
ered, and the sheriff having failed to put in his 
appearance, now commenced the work they had 
cut out for themselves and their friends to per- 
form. Firing began from every direction every 
man fought independently, as best he could. 
Each part of the town became a separate battle- 
field. The non-combatants sought safety in flight 
or in the shelter of their homes. Black clouds of 
smoke hung over the ill-fated town; the air was 
stifling with the smell of sulphur. The grim 
monster of civil war raged in all its fury. Well 
might we say with Chalmers : 

" O, the miseries of war ! We recoil with 
horror at the destruction of a single individual 
by some deed of violence. When we see a man 
in the prime of health suddenly struck down by 
some deadly aim, the sight of the lifeless body 
haunts us for days and weeks, and the shock ex- 
perienced, only time can wear away. 

" The scene stands before us in daytime, is 
the subject of our dreams, and spreads a gloom 
which time can only disperse. 

" It is painful to dwell on the distressing pic- 
ture of one individual, but multiply it, and think 
of the agonies of dying men, as goaded by pain, 
they grasp the cold ground with convulsive 

1 76 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

energy, or another, faint with the loss of blood, 
his pulse ebbs low, and the gathering paleness 
spreads itself over his countenance; or, wrap- 
ping himself round in despair, he can only mark 
by a few feeble quiverings, that life still lurks 
and lingers in his lacerated body; or, lifting up 
a faded eye, he casts a look of imploring help- 
lessness for that succor which no sympathy can 

The moment the battle opened, Logan became 
the target for many guns from the concealed 
Tollivers. The balls fell all around him; plowed 
up the ground at his feet and hissed by his ears. 
Craig Tolliver and his confederates instinctively 
singled him out as their most dangerous adversary 
and made every effort to kill him. 

The details of the battle are authentically re- 
corded in the report of Ernest McPherson, cap- 
tain of a detachment of the Louisville Legion, to 
the Adjutant-General of Kentucky, Sam E. Hill, 
which report was transmitted to the Governor 
and reported to the Legislature. , (See documents 
1887, No. 23.) 

As the Tollivers were coming back, Boone 
Logan commenced firing. He was at once de- 
serted by the men with him, but continued the fire 
which was returned by the two Tollivers, Craig 
and Jay, until their Winchester rifles and pistols 
were empty. They ran from below the depot to 

Final Battle of Morehead 177 

the American House, Craig Tolliver's hotel, and 
obtaining a fresh supply of ammunition, were 
joined by Bud, Andy, Cal and Gate Tolliver, 
Cooper and others. All then started on the run 
for the Central Hotel. Andy was the first to 
reach that building by going through alleys and 
back ways. Bud Tolliver, Cooper and the rest 
went by way of Railroad Street, under constant 
fire from the bushes. Halting near the drug store 
they fired upon the concealed enemies and 
wounded one Madden. Bud Tolliver was here 
shot in the thigh. Cal and Cate, who were mere 
boys, assisted Bud up the lane and secreted him 
in the weeds back of Johnson's store. They then 
rejoined their comrades. Cooper presently 
emerged from the Central Hotel and fired upon 
some of the Logan men, but was himself shot 
through the breast. He retreated into the hotel 
and secreted himself in a wardrobe, up-stairs, and 
in this place of fancied security was again hit by 
a bullet and killed. 

The Central Hotel was surrounded, a cessation 
of firing ordered and Logan called upon the Tol- 
livers to " come out and they should not be hurt." 
A message of the same purport was delivered to 
the Tollivers by a woman. She returned with 
Cate Tolliver, a boy fifteen years of age, who 
was disarmed and allowed to go unmolested. The 

178 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

others in the house refusing to surrender, Logan 
resorted to the tactics employed by the Tollivers 
against his cousins and directed his men to fire 
the building. The Tollivers broke cover and 
started for the bushes. Before leaving the house 
Craig Tolliver coolly pulled off his boots, saying 
that it had always been prophesied he would die 
with his boots on, and that he intended to dis- 
appoint the prophets. He emerged in his stock- 
ing feet. Jay Tolliver got out the rear way, ran 
about fifty feet, was shot three times and fell 
dead. Craig and Andy broke from the hotel on 
the south side and were greeted with a hail of 
bullets. Andy was wounded twice, but not se- 
riously, and under cover of the smoke succeeded 
in reaching the woods. Craig Tolliver's former 
good luck at last deserted him. He ran, firing 
at his enemies, down a lane which leads from the 
hotel to the railroad track. At the corner of the 
drug store already spoken of, Pigman, Apperson 
Perry and three others were posted. They in- 
stantly opened fire on Tolliver, the score or more 
still at the hotel, also continuing their fusilade 
upon the fleeing outlaw. Craig Tolliver ran a 
few steps beyond the corner of the store, fell, 
rose again and, running toward the switch, sank 
to the ground to rise no more. He was riddled 
with balls and buckshot. To the great regret of 

Final Battle of Morehead 179 

the Logan men, the man whose death they most 
desired, was not injured. This man was Bunk 
Mannin, the town marshal, who so brutally mal- 
treated the dead bodies of the two Logan boys. 

There were undoubtedly some bad men in this 
fight against the Tollivers to whom may be 
ascribed some excesses which occurred on that 
memorable day. But they do not appear to have 
been actually connected with the Logans. One 
of these men admitted that he fired three shots 
into the body of Jay Tolliver after he was down. 
This same man afterwards became a willing wit- 
ness for the prosecution against the slayers of the 
Tollivers. It was this band of guerillas that shot 
Cooper while secreted in the hotel, dying from 
a wound in the breast. After completing their 
inhuman butchery, this same guerilla band sacked 
the American Hotel and committed other out- 

The firing was continuous for two hours, ex- 
cept while the Logans made proposals to the Tol- 
livers to come out and surrender. Over fifteen 
hundred shots were fired. 

There was a general sense of relief among the 
inhabitants when the battle was over and the 
dreaded Tollivers were wiped out. A public 
meeting was held and largely attended. A party, 
styling itself the Law and Order League, took 

i8o Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

possession of the town and held it until the ar- 
rival of troops. 

Boone Logan had faithfully kept his word and 
retaken his fireside. The sinking sun witnessed 
his return to the home from which he had been 
banished. His enemies had crossed over the great 

For the first time in many months the town 
was quiet. The yells and defiant curses of the 
drunken desperadoes were heard no more. The 
lips that had uttered them were still. Peace en- 
tered Morehead once more. It had been pur- 
chased at the price of much blood. 

The battle of June 22nd, 1887, was the last 
bloody clash between the various factions of 
Rowan County. The Tollivers, deprived of their 
leader, gave the town a wide berth after this. 
It soon resumed its former appearance of thrift 
and prosperity. Many of those who had removed 
from the county, now returned and took posses- 
sion of their abandoned property. Business 
houses, closed for many months, were reopened, 
the illegal saloons closed tight, and law and order 
have been reasonably well maintained in the 
county ever since. 

Several of the Logan men were indicted for 
murder, Hiram M. Pigman, who had been 
Logan's right hand man, and of whom the latter 

Final Battle of Morehead 181 

spoke as the bravest and most circumspect man 
on the field that day, was indicted jointly with 
Apperson Perry. They were tried by a jury of 
Fleming County and promptly acquitted. Logan 
was never tried. 

"The court was held under the protection of 
State troops. The trial lasted for seven days. 
Pigman and Perry were shown to be men of ex- 
cellent character, neither of them had been parties 
to previous killings in Rowan County. The evi- 
dence being concluded, the court instructed the 
jury. Briefly summarised, these instructions were 
' Convict these defendants/ The jury, however, 
were really 'good men and true' and to the 
evident surprise of the court, and the chagrin 
of the prosecuting attorney, returned a verdict 
of not guilty. These jurymen had been sum- 
moned from the adjoining county of Fleming. 
Their names deserve the thanks of all good 
citizens of the Commonwealth. Obedience to the 
law and protection from the law, are reciprocal 
rights and duties, and this jury really decided that 
where those to whom it is delegated to administer 
the laws, and to protect the lives, liberty and 
property of the citizens, wilfully disregard, or 
timidly refrain from discharging their duties, the 
citizen has the right to protect and defend him- 

1 82 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

self." (Capt. McPherson's report. Documents 
1887. No. 23.) 

The glaring partiality of the court and cor- 
ruption of most of its officers he illustrates in 
the following language : 

" Not infrequently a witness would apply to 
an attorney the epithet of liar, and when ques- 
tioned relative to some crime charged against him, 
a witness would defend his credibility on the 
ground that his questioner was guilty of offenses 
similar in character, which he would proceed to 

" Even the court would express his opinion in 
words of abuse and very plainly exhibited his 
partiality or prejudice. Indeed, when the case of 
the Commonwealth against John Keeton was 
called for trial, and the affidavit of the defendant 
and two reputable housekeepers, asserting the be- 
lief that the presiding judge would not afford the 
defendant a fair and impartial trial was by the 
defendant handed to the judge, he remarked', 
after reading the instrument aloud, that he was 
not surprised; that John Keeton would swear 
anything; that he had sworn to so many lies al- 
ready that it was not astonishing that he (the 
judge) would not give him a fair trial. This 
observation of His Honor was delivered in the 
presence of the jury selected to try John Keeton." 

Final Battle of Morehead 183 

Reverting to the excesses committed by the 
guerillas during the battle and afterwards, Adju- 
tant-General Hill says: (Documents, Ky. 1887.) 

" Almost every one with whom I talked, heart- 
ily approved the day's work, barring some ex- 
cesses, which were committed, such as the kill- 
ing of the two wounded men after the fight was 
over, and the disposition on the part of certain 
members of the posse to abuse their victory by 
manifesting some disregard of property rights, 
which conduct was bitterly lamented by the more 
conservative members of the posse, notably Boone 
Logan himself. The victors of the 22nd of June 
were in the main, singularly moderate and for- 
bearing, and it is denied by none of the people 
there that they rendered a most valuable service 
to the county in overthrowing the outlaws who 
had so long terrorized the community/* 

During Circuit Court the commanding officers 
of the troops noticed one of the sheriffs and 
several Tolliver sympathizers in secret consulta- 
tions. So suspicious were their actions that they 
were watched. In the afternoon these parties dis- 
appeared from Morehead. The next afternoon 
they brought a box of Springfield rifles, calibre 
fifty, by train. One thousand rounds of ammu- 
nition accompanied the guns. Col. McKee 
promptly seized the arms over the vigorous pro- 
test of the Tolliver faction. The court had di- 

184 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

rected their shipment " for the purpose of secur- 
ing peace and quiet and preventing a fight among 
citizens of this community." Another order of 
the court declared " arms and weapons are kept 
or hidden or concealed, with the intent and pur- 
pose of being used by partisans of the factional 
war or strife now disturbing the peace, quiet and 
good order of said county of Rowan or being 
delivered to said partisans " etc., and directed the 
seizure of all arms. The officers complied, col- 
lecting all arms discovered in the possession of 
the Logan faction, and, of course, retaining the 
box of Springfields consigned to White, a Tol- 
liver sympathizer. Then, strange to say, on 
August 24th, an order was issued by the Circuit 
Court directing the Colonel commanding the 
troops, or rather the Adjutant-General, to im- 
mediately deliver to the sheriff the box of Spring- 
fields and ammunition to arm a posse of citizens 
of Rowan County to make an arrest, and demand- 
ing a reply in writing should the officer refuse to 
comply with this strange order. The Adjutant- 
General replied that he could not comply with 
the order for the reason that the arms could not 
be released except under direction from the Gov- 

The effect of obedience to this order would 
have been to restore the arms to the Tolliver 

Final Battle of Morehead 185 

faction, while retaining those of the Logan party, 
and to arm a posse, perhaps to be guided by 
Deputy Sheriff Hogg, with its recent infamous 
history still in mind, would scarcely have been 
consistent with the duty of an officer sent to 
Rowan County to preserve peace. A day or two 
afterwards the court severely censured the Gov- 
ernor for not permitting His Honor to arm such 
sheriff's posse as he might select. Before depart- 
ure from Rowan the officer commanding re- 
stored the guns and pistols taken from private 
individuals during the term of court. 

The box of Springfield rifles was retained and 
loaded upon the cars for shipment to Frankfort. 
The Tollivers were incensed. Deputy Sheriff 
Hogg and Andy White sauntered through town 
breathing threats and dire vengeance if the guns 
were not left behind. The soldiers loading them, 
however, were not disturbed, and the guns were 
deposited in the arsenal at Frankfort. 

The presiding Circuit judge was soon after- 
wards, the following January, brought before the 
Legislature on impeachment proceedings. Dur- 
ing the long-drawn-out investigation many wit- 
nesses were examined, whose testimony fills an 
entire volume. The result of the investigation 
was censure, a quasi whitewash, and a recom- 
mendation to abolish the county and attach it to 

1 86 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

another. But this would have meant nothing 
more nor less than to saddle upon innocent people 
the settlement of a controversy. To have trans- 
ferred the county to another district would have 
resulted in involving other sections hitherto not 
affected by the trouble. To have abolished the 
county would have been an open acknowledgment 
of the weakness of the State to execute its laws 
and to cope with crime. It was this confidence 
of the lawbreakers that their crimes would never 
be punished, and the belief of many good citizens 
that the machinery of the law was set in motion 
only in the interests of certain parties, that was 
responsible for the long-continued, shameful dis- 
orders in Rowan County. 


THE scene of this war was Perry County, Ken- 
tucky, one of the most mountainous sections of 
all Southeastern Kentucky. Hazard, the county 
seat, was then a small, but very "thrifty and en- 
terprising village. It was called a town. Right- 
fully it ought not to have aspired to that title. It 
is situated on the North Fork of the Kentucky 
River, and was built in scattered fashion, between 
abrupt hills in the rear and the river, with but a 
single street running through it. 

Here at Hazard was the cradle of the feud 
which for years filled newspaper columns and fur- 
nished most sensational reading. Many of the 
stories which have gone out to the world had, 
however, no other foundation than a lively imag- 
ination of newspaper writers who were anxious 
to fill space and to please the readers that loved 
the sensational. In this purpose they have suc- 
ceeded admirably. 

Here at Hazard resided the chieftains of this 
war Joseph C. Eversole, and Benjamin Fulton 

Both were men of fine business abilities, sue- 

1 88 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

cess fully engaged in the mercantile business; both 
were prominent, able lawyers of the Perry courts; 
both were in easy financial circumstances. 

Eversole was extensively related in Perry and 
adjoining counties. 

French had originally come from the State of 
Tennessee, but had married a Kentuckian and by 
marriage had become related to influential fam- 
ilies of Breathitt, Leslie and other counties. 

Prior to the difficulties which eventually ar- 
rayed them against each other, Eversole and 
French had been apparently close friends. 

A misunderstanding over a rather trivial mat- 
ter furnished the basis of their future enmity, 
an enmity to the death. 

The bird on the snowy alpine slope starts an 
insignificant slide. It increases as it rolls down- 
ward and becomes an avalanche ; thundering into 
the valley below, carrying everything before it 
and leaving a path of desolation, destruction and 
death behind it. 

So a trivial difference over a business trans- 
action opened graves for many brave and gen- 
erous men, desolated happy homes, and for a long 
time heaped shame upon the name of Perry- 
County and the State at large. 

French and Eversole disagreed and quarreled. 
At each subsequent meeting the quarrel was re- 

The French-Eversole War 189 

newed with ever increasing bitterness; menacing 
threats were freely indulged in until the vials of 
hate became filled to overflowing. A theretofore 
existing sharp business rivalry materially assisted 
the estrangement from the start. As stated, both 
were engaged in the mercantile business in which 
each tried to outdo the other, often at a material 

Serious trouble might yet have been averted 
through the interference of honest friends but 
for an unfortunate circumstance, which involved 
them to such an extent that the breach became 

The circumstance referred to might, however, 
never have had serious consequences had it not 
been for the pernicious activity of the slanderous 
tale teller. In this feud, perhaps more so than in 
any other of the internecine strifes which, during 
the eighties added to the significance of the title, 
the " Dark and Bloody Ground," and intensified 
the crimson hue of its history, we find those who 
shunned battle, feared to oppose their breasts to 
the shock of bullet, but gloried in pouring oil 
upon the flames, without danger to themselves. 

In such a struggle the tale-bearer is more dan- 
gerous than powder and shot. Morally and 
legally, he who instigates a murder, even by in- 
direction, is as much a murderer as the man who 

Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

fires the gun and accomplishes the bloody deed. 
With the countenance of the saint such a man 
will seek the confidence of both sides. He loves 
to pose as a peacemaker; he preaches brotherly 
love. Yet, when the trouble is about to abate, he 
seems to regret it, for then he seizes upon every 
chance, uses every opportune moment to convey 
some confidential intelligence to the party or 
parties for whose ears it had been least intended. 
The strife is renewed; passions are rekindled; 
yet, while men welter in their hearts' blood, 
widows mourn and orphans cry, the traitor, the 
tale-teller, the scandal peddler, maintains his 
saintly countenance and bewails the fate of the 

Yet it is not always the spoken slander, the 
spoken tale, that hurts. The old adage that " si- 
lence is golden " is not to be applied in all cases. 
Silence is often even more dangerous than spoken 

Silence may become a greater liar than the 
tongue. We often hear the expression " if you 
cannot speak good of any one, say nothing ! " Yet 
silence is the most bitter, poisonous, insidious 
tradttcer. Silence may convey contempt more 
completely than a torrent of spoken words. 
Silence is most treacherous because it places the 
burden of its interpretation upon the other side. 

The French-Eversole War 191 

That interpretation may be wrong, but the silent 
slanderer does not correct it. 

Silence is also many sided. It may mean con- 
sent; it may mean denial. It does incalculable 
harm without being in the least responsible or 
actionable. One cannot horsewhip one for injury 
to character through silence. Silence and innu- 
endo are closely related; both are the most dan- 
gerous weapons of the moral coward. 

Spoken lies are soon forgotten. They " rile " 
the blood but that passes. Spoken lies are 
tangible, as it were, and may be met. Silence 
and innuendo are like enemies in invisible am- 
bush. One cannot attack an invisible foe. 

What we have reference to might best be il- 
lustrated by the following dialogue the writer 
once overheard : 

A. " Tell me truly, did he make that charge 
against me ? " 

B. turns away and refuses to answer. 

A. " I heard he had made that charge against 
me to you and threatened my life is this true? " 

No answer. 

A. " I may then presume by your silence that 
it is true what I have asked you about ? " 

No reply. 

Result of silence: A homicide, and the destruc- 
tion of two families. 

192 Kentucky 's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

Asked later on why he did not nip the trouble 
in its incipiency by resorting to a white lie, B. an- 
swered with asperity that A. had put his own con- 
struction upon his silence and refusal to have any- 
thing whatever to say in their controversy. On 
the stand B. admitted that the third party in 
question had not told him what A. had inquired 
about. Ergo: B. was morally responsible for 
the homicide, as much so as the man that pulled 
the trigger. 

Reverting to the circumstance which completed 
the breach between French and Eversole : A cer- 
tain friend (?) of French conveyed information 
to Eversole that he, French, sought his life. 

This informant was a clerk in the store of 
French and known to be in his confidence. Nat- 
urally, under such circumstances, Eversole gave 
the report credence. Why not? We are ever 
ready to believe and accept as true anything that 
is spoken of an enemy, and French and Ever- 
sole had already become such in their hearts, if 
not outwardly. 

The tale-bearer, who shall be nameless, related 
how French had planned to rid himself of his 
business rival and thus make for himself a clear 
field for mercantile operations; that French ex- 
pected to accomplish his purpose with the aid of 
trusty, hired assassins, and that one part of the 

The French-Eversole War 193 

plan, the employment of reliable murderers, had 
been entrusted to him, the informant, who had 
been promised any amount of money necessary 
for this purpose, and a partnership with French 
in the business as a further reward for his ser- 

Whether for real or imaginary causes, this tak- 
bearer had become intensely jealous of French 
over a woman. He sought consolation in re- 
venge; one of the. first steps toward the consum- 
mation of his desire to ruin his " rival in love " 
had been the bearing of the tale referred to to 

Eversole, after weighing carefully the state- 
ment, seemed to have entertained some doubt of 
its truth, and requested a sworn affidavit contain- 
ing the statements made. This the tale-teller 
readily prepared with such clearness of detail as 
to cause Eversole to dismiss all doubt of the 
truth of the revelations and at once prepared to 
meet his enemy well. 

French saw the ominous gathering of the Ever- 
sole clan, fully armed, and surrounded himself 
with an equally strong force. 

Both of the belligerents kept busy recruiting 
among their friends and kindred in Perry and 
even adjoining counties. Man after man was 
added to the clans, some joining them bound by 

194 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

the strong ties of relationship or friendship, the 
most, however, were attracted by promises of 
good steady pay, and an opportunity to violate the 
law on a grander scale than they would have 
dared to do single-handed. 

The first murder occurred shortly after the 
gathering of the clans. 

One of French's staunchest friends, one Silas 
Gayhart, was shot and killed from ambush. 

This mode of warfare was resorted to in this 
feud perhaps more generally than in any of the 
others. It must not be attributed altogether to 
cowardice this murdering from ambush. It has 
many advantages. Of course, killing an enemy 
from ambush puts the slayers out of danger. 
That is one consideration, but the chief est one 
is that it is almost impossible to fasten the guilt 
of the crime upon the proper person. When men 
are banded together for the, purpose of commit- 
ting crime, the sanctity of an oath is easily laid 
aside when an alibi becomes necessary. The en- 
tire population of the county may know the as- 
sassins, point them out to you as they stalk 
proudly along, yet, when it comes to trials by 
jury, the evidence seems to signally fail to con- 
nect them. The very men that might have told 
you in confidence the most damaging circum- 
stances connecting the accused with crime, will, 

The French-Eversole War 195 

on the stand, disclaim all knowledge, or so soften 
down their statements that no jury could, under 
their oaths, find a verdict of guilty. 

In this murder of Gayhart at least a dozen 
white men and some negroes participated. It is 
unfortunate that circumstances do not permit us 
to give the names of them. They should be pre- 
served for posterity, and added to the list of feud 
heroes. As no one was ever indicted for that 
cowardly assassination, although its perpetrators 
were well-known throughout the county, history 
must necessarily remain silent in so far as the 
publication of their names is concerned. 

It has been stated and contended that the kill- 
ing of Gayhart was an affair entirely disconnected 
with the French-Eversole controversy; that the 
man had fallen as the victim of a quarrel with 
persons not members of the clan. This may be 
true and it may not. It is difficult in such social 
upheavals to get at the unvarnished truth. When 
crimes are committed under cover of black night, 
from well-secreted places, suspicion might point 
in the wrong direction and accuse the innocent. 
For this reason it is best to abstain from charges 
not definitely established beyond any sort of 
doubt. The result of the Gayhart murder, how- 
ever, was the same as if he had been publicly as- 
sassinated by the Eversole clan, for French be- 

196 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

lieved that Gay hart lost his life because of his 
friendship for him. 

French sent out more recruiting officers. The 
increase of his " army " forced the Eversoles to 
do likewise. How similar is this to the struggle 
of nations to maintain superior armies and navies. 
It is not strange, after all. Communities stand 
relatively in the same attitude as do nations. A 
community is a miniature state, nothing more. 

The little village of Hazard, with its one hun- 
dred inhabitants, was now thrown into a state of 
perpetual excitement which continued uninter- 
rupted through the summer, fall and winter of 

That no battle was fought was due to the ex- 
treme caution with which the clans watched each 
other's every move. 

. Then early one morning the Eversole faction 
learned to their astonishment that French and his 
army had evacuated the town during the night. 

Many theories were advanced in explanation of 
this singular action. Some attributed it to fear. 
Those better acquainted with the temper and 
make-up of the French clan scouted that idea and 
suggested that French was seeking reinforcement 
in the country, and that at an opportune moment 
he would sweep down upon the village, trap the 

The French-Eversole War 197 

hemmed-in Eversoles, and annihilate them with 
overwhelming forces. 

This seemed a rational conclusion. With 
French gone from town, Eversole declined to be 
caught in such a trap, as trap it would have been, 
and to prevent the execution of French's plan 
the Eversoles themselves retreated to a section 
of the country peopled with their sympathizers. 

However, Eversole did not leave Hazard open 
to undisputed occupation. He left a bait there, 
a small force. If French should learn of the 
weakness of the garrison he would be tempted 
to sweep down upon it. In doing so he would 
find Eversole striking in his rear. French him- 
self was shrewd and refused to fall into the trap. 

Eversole scouted everywhere, frequently on the 
trail of French. During the month of June, in 
the dark of night, the latter reentered Hazard, 
took possession of his fortified places where most 
of his men remained secreted, while the more dar- 
ing of them walked the streets the next morning, 
bantering the Eversoles that had been left in town. 
Their leader was at once notified by messenger 
to the country of the state of affairs. He had but 
few men with him at that time, but with these 
started for town. Seven or eight men, fortu- 
nately for him, joined his ranks on the way. 

It was late in the day when Hazard was 

198 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

reached, but the lateness of the hour did not 
defer attack. From well selected positions the 
Eversoles opened a plunging fire upon the 
housed-up French men. These replied to the 
fusilade with equal spirit. Hundreds of shots 
were fired at a great expenditure of ammunition 
and without appreciable result. Only one man 
was seriously wounded on the side of French. No 
casualties were admitted by the Eversoles. 

The darkness of the night brought the en- 
gagement to a close. French withdrew from 

This kind of almost bloodless warfare con- 
tinued throughout the summer with no decisive 
result. Both clans grew weary. Great expense 
had been incurred in keeping a large, paid army. 
The leaders were threatened with bankruptcy. 
So when the friends of both sides interceded, 
French and Eversole seemed more than willing 
to appoint and send representatives to a confer- 
ence, which was held on Big Creek in Perry 
County. It was attended by prominent citizens 
of both Perry and Leslie counties, who were 
anxious to bring about a settlement of the war. 

Articles of agreement were finally drawn up, 
in which the belligerents agreed to return to their 
homes, to disband their armies, and to surrender 
their arms and ammunition. 

The French-Eversole War 199 

This agreement was duly signed by the repre- 
sentatives of the clans and duly witnessed. 

In accordance with this agreement, French sur- 
rendered his arms to the county judge of Leslie 
County, while Eversole placed his guns in charge 
of Josiah Combs, county judge of Perry County. 

The clans disbanded. Still, there were but few 
who promised themselves lasting results from the 
Big Creek Treaty of Peace. It was nothing more 
than a scrap of paper. The compromise had not 
been prompted by any desire for friendship. 

Its underlying motive was mercenary. The 
chieftains sought merely to avoid financial outlay. 
The welfare of the country, respect for the law, 
these were considerations of secondary impor- 
tance only, if taken into account at all. This may 
be fairly deducted from the fact that the old dis- 
trust of each other never vanished. The grudge 
was there, it rankled still. 

Indeed, it was but a short time after the con- 
clusion of the treaty that French claimed to have 
unquestionable authority for the charge that Ever- 
sole had violated the stipulations by repossessing 
himself of the guns. These, as we have seen, 
had been turned over to Judge Josiah Combs, 
who, by the way, was the father-in-law of Joe 

When Eversole was confronted with this breach 

2OO Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies' 

of a solemn treaty he attempted to justify it by 
declaring that at no time had it ever been ob- 
served by French, who, he maintained, had never 
in fact disbanded his army, and that the surren- 
der of arms had only been partial, a blind. 

Whether these reports had been actually 
brought to the ears of the chieftains, or had been 
invented by them in order to manufacture some 
sort of pretext upon which to renew hostilities, 
must ever remain in doubt. Future events seem 
to prove rather clearly that neither of the parties 
was in very good faith toward keeping the peace. 
Both French and Eversole appeared singularly 
well prepared to re-enter the war. The ink had 
hardly dried on the treaty when Perry County 
was again thrown into turmoil and strife. 

What had the authorities been doing during 
this period of quasi warfare ? We find absolutely 
no record of any sort of any attempt to maintain 
the dignity of the law. 

As in Rowan County, many of the court offi- 
cers were rank partisans, who used their power 
to protect in outlawry their own particular 
friends and kindred. Those not in their favor 
had little cause to appeal to the law, had they 
been inclined to do so, which they were not. It 
seemed to suit both sides perfectly to let justice 

The French-Eversole War 201 

sheath her sword and stand idle, and blind as 

On the 1 5th of September, 1887, Joe Ever- 
sole and Bill Gambriel, a French sympathizer, 
met in the streets of Hazard, when a quarrel en- 
sued. This was followed by a most sanguinary 
duel in which Gambriel was killed. 

Gambriel was a minister of the gospel, a typ- 
ical mountaineer, tall, powerful and game. He 
would fight at the drop of a hat and drop the hat 
himself. It was said of him that he considered 
moonshine whiskey of much benefit for the 
stomach, and a game at cards an agreeable di- 
version from the cares and toils of life. It was 
said of him, too, that he carried a testament in 
one pocket, a deck of cards, a bottle of liquor and 
a pistol in the others. This had been told in a 
joke; but straightway this description of him was 
accepted as a fact and was widely published in 
the papers at the time. 

The truth of the matter is that he was a man 
who entertained rather singular, independent and 
free ideas of the duties of a preacher. He was 
a good man, and had a wide circle of friends. 

Joe Eversole was physically a small man, of 
slight stature, but quick and agile as a boy. Cer- 
tainly he was fearless. 

When such men engage in combat blood is sure 

202 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

to flow. As to who began the difficulty there is 
but little doubt. Official reports to the Governor, 
which will be found later on, place the blame upon 

After a short exchange of blows between the 
men, Gambriel was fired upon by secreted friends 
of Eversole. Attempting to escape by running 
around a house, Gambriel was fired upon from 
another quarter and fatally wounded. Staggering 
and reeling, he turned upon Eversole, who fired 
into his head, instantly killing him. 

Several parties were indicted for the murder, 
but one only was tried. The trial resulted in a 
hung jury the first time, and in an acquittal on the 
second trial. It has always been an open secret 
about town that the man who fired upon Gam- 
briel while he attempted to escape death, has 
never been indicted, and that he was an officer at 
that time. 

The killing created intense feeling. Gambriel 
had many friends. He was a staunch French ad- 
herent and it was well within the course of rea- 
son for French to regard the killing of the man 
as a challenge. The Eversoles themselves be- 
lieved that Gambriel's friends would not pass 
lightly over the homicide and prepared to meet 
all danger. The clans, disbanded (?) but a short 
time before, reassembled and for several months 

The French-Eversole War 203 

roamed the ill-fated county at will, terrorizing 
its inhabitants and defying the law. 

But little fighting was done. It seems that 
they contented themselves with maneuvering, 
marching and counter-marching. In such war- 
fare, if warfare it was, the innocent were made 
to suffer more than the warriors. 

Such an armed vagabondage was as useless as 
it was silly. It furnished material for the sensa- 
tional newspaper, but even these failed to discover 
anything of the heroic about this campaign. 

The leaders must have felt something of that 
themselves, for during the winter the armies were 
again disbanded. Permanent restoration of 
peace, however, was not to come to Perry County 
yet for a time. 

The apparent calm through the winter was 
suddenly disturbed in the following April, when 
the news of the brutal assassination of Joseph C. 
Eversole and Nick Combs excited and horrified 

On the morning of April I5th, 1888, the valley 
of Big Creek, Perry County, became the scene of 
a tragedy which might well cause one's blood to 
run cold with horror, one's cheek to blush with 

On the Sabbath day, when human hearts should 
turn to God in prayer, when nature even seems 

2O4 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

to bow in reverence, the birds of the forests sing 
His praises with more than usual sweetness, two 
lives were hurled into eternity without warning, 
murdered, butchered from ambush. 

When a man resents an insult, when passion 
clouds all reason, and in momentary frenzy, under 
the impulse of hot, red blood, he shoots his fel- 
low man, there is yet some excuse. But when 
men with the savage instinct of beasts of prey 
fall upon their unsuspecting victims from ambush, 
like the tiger that glides noiselessly through the 
thick jungle and suddenly springs upon its prey, 
then the word man becomes a mock and devil is 
the proper epithet. 

Nowhere in the valley of Big Creek could a 
more suitable spot have been selected from which 
to accomplish such a hellish crime as was com- 
mitted on that fatal Sunday morning, than the 
one chosen by the red-handed demons. 

The valley is narrow, the hills enclosing it are 
steep, rugged and covered with dense forest. The 
spot where the murderers were in hiding, com- 
manded an uninterrupted view of the road up 
and down the valley. Nothing short of a lynx's 
eyes could have penetrated the leafy, thicket- 
grown murderers' retreat. 

On the day of the murder, Joe Eversole, in 
company of his father-in-law, Judge Josiah 

The French-Eversole War 205 

Combs and the latter s youthful nephew, Nick 
Combs, bade a last farewell to his family and 
the host of friends at Hazard and started for 
Hyden where the regular term of the Circuit 
Court was scheduled to begin the following morn- 
ing. This court Eversole and Judge Combs had 
always attended, having been practising mem- 
bers of the bar there for years. Of this fact the 
assassins had been well informed. 

They seemed to have feared that their intended 
victims might possibly leave for Hyden a day or 
two in advance of court, which they had done on 
several occasions in the past, so the murderers 
prepared for such an exigency and stationed 
themselves at the ambush for at least a day before 
that memorable Sunday. 

Their patient waiting was rewarded on Sunday 
morning by the appearance of the victims. On 
the way the three travelers were joined by one 
Tom Hollifield, an officer, who was conveying a 
prisoner, Mary Jones, to Hyden. Judge Combs 
rode by the side of the officer, well in advance of 
Eversole and young Nick Combs. 

They had passed the ambush some forty yards 
or more, when suddenly the roar of rapidly fired 
guns echoed and re-echoed through the valley. At 
the sound of the shots Judge Combs turned and 
saw, to his horror, that the messengers of death 

206 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

had accomplished their cruel mission, saw Joe 
Eversole and Nick Combs fall from their rear- 
ing and plunging horses, saw them struggle in 
their blood and then lay still. 

Paralyzed with horror and agony, he gazed 
upon the scene. He had no sense or realization 
of his own danger, for in danger he had been. 
It was purely accident that he had ridden in 
advance of his kinsmen. 

One of the assassins climbed down the steep 
hillside and approached the body of Nick Combs, 
who was then in his death-throes. He had 
fainted, but upon the approach of the assassin, 
opened his eyes. 

The murderer, finding life still lingering in the 
mangled, bleeding body, raised his rifle to finish 
the bloody work. The youth begged piteously 
to shoot him no more, that death would claim 
him in a few moments. Mountains might have 
been moved by his pleadings, but not the heart 
of the cowardly assassin. " Dead men tell no 
tales," he exclaimed, with a smile of derision 
upon his lips. Slowly he raised the Winchester 
rifle, placed the muzzle against the boy's head 
and fired, dropping the eyeballs from their 

The murderer then calmly rifled the pockets 

The French-Eversole War 207 

of Eversole of their contents and retreated, thus 
adding the crime of robbery to that of murder. 

Judge Combs, brought to himself, spurred his 
horse to utmost exertion and dashed like a maniac 
into Hyden to bring the news. 

The scene of the crime was within about three 
hundred yards of a house. Shortly after the 
shooting one Fields, the owner of the house or 
cabin, and one Campbell proceeded to the scene 
of the tragedy. 

They found the dead in a pool of blood, lying 
within a few feet of each other. They discovered 
Eversole's pockets turned inside out. Nick 
Combs 1 horse was found, shot, in a little meadow 
by the side of the road, while Eversole's horse 
was afterwards caught some miles further down 
the stream. 

The news of the tragedy aroused the people to 
instant action. A force of men was assembled, 
who started upon the trail of the murderers. The 
place of ambush was found. It was located 
exactly sixty-one feet from the point where the 
bodies had been found, in a dense spruce-pine 
thicket. Several of the pine bushes had been bent 
over and the tops tied together, thus forming a 
complete screen and shelter. 

Behind this blind or screen they found a con- 
siderable depression in the earth, a natural rifle 

208 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

pit. This had been filled with leaves and ap- 
peared packed and trodden into the ground. 
Numerous footprints were plainly visible. Rem- 
nants of meals were also found. Everything 
tended to confirm the theory that the assassins 
had been there for at least two days before the 
killing. From this screen the trail was followed 
up the hill until it divided. One of the trails led 
to the top of a high ridge, one turned to the right, 
another to the left. This discovery proved that 
there had been at least three assassins. When 
this fact became known the pursuers retreated, 
seemingly afraid of an ambush. They reasoned 
that three or more men so desperate as to commit 
a cold-blooded double murder in the broad-open 
light of day, almost in sight of human habitation, 
would and could, in this wild mountain region, 
successfully fight an even larger force than was 
at the command of the pursuers. 

The bodies of Ever sole and Combs were con- 
veyed to Hazard in the afternoon and consigned 
to their graves amid a great concourse of sorrow- 
ing people. 

Thus the bloody drama ends. The sombre cur- 
tain of mourning falls. The story of the brutal 
assassination is finished. Justice hides her head 
in shame for no one has ever been punished for it. 

The French faction was at once openly charged 

The French-Eversole War 209 

with responsibility for the outrage. French him- 
self was indicted. So boldly and undisguised 
were these accusations circulated that French 
feared for his safety and again surrounded him- 
self \yith men. He almost immediately withdrew 
from town and scouted through the country. 

If those who committed the murder of Ever- 
sole, or their accessaries, had hoped to thereby 
crush the enemy, they found themselves sadly 
mistaken. The vacancy created by the death of 
Joe Eversole was quickly and ably filled by John 
Campbell, a man of acknowledged bravery, as 
well as caution, and well-fitted as a leader in such 
a struggle. 

He surrounded the town with guards; squads 
of men patrolled the streets; his force made re- 
peated scouts into the neighboring hills. No man 
not in possession of the password could enter 
town. An unauthorized attempt to do so drew 
upon the rash one the fire of many guns. Camp- 
bell had been for days in hourly expectation of 
an attack by French. He, therefore, believed 
it wise to resort to military methods and disci- 
pline. The rigid order to shoot any . one who 
dared to pass into town without first giving the 
pass-word resulted in his own death. 

He was returning one night from his usual 
rounds when, on approaching a sentry, he found 

2io Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

him asleep. He ordered him harshly to arise, 
when the man, half asleep, and dazed, threw the 
gun to his shoulder and fired. Campbell uttered 
a groan and fell heavily to the ground. 

The sentry, on perceiving his mistake, gave the 
alarm; the wounded chieftain was carried to his 
home, where an examination of his wound by 
"the surgeons disclosed the fact that he had been 
fatally wounded. He lingered, however, for 
more than thirty days in intense agony before he 
died the victim of his own precautions. 

During Campbell's leadership one Shade Combs 
conceived the grand idea that he was the man who 
might summarily end the war by killing off cer- 
tain obnoxious members of the French faction. 
He communicated his plans to Campbell, who 
furnished him the required men. But by some 
means Combs' intended victims had gotten wind 
of his scheme and forestalled it in such manner 
that the hunter now became the hunted. One fine 
morning, while saddling his horse, a well-directed 
shot from ambush ended his life. 

Such were conditions in Perry County during 
the summer and fall of 1888. People who had 
continued entirely neutral, grew exceedingly 
nervous. One never knew when his turn would 
come next to die from a shot from the bushes. 
The law had utterly failed to give the citizens the 

The French-Eversole War 211 

protection to which they were entitled. The state 
and county government enforced the collection of 
taxes but seemed unable to enforce the law. 
Had the people of Perry County withheld their 
hands from their purse-strings and refused to pay 
taxes, we honestly believe that the high authori- 
ties would very quickly have found or invented 
a remedy for the lawlessness which was depriving 
the State of revenue. The citizens of Perry 
County would have been justified in a rebellion 
against taxation, unless the government protected 
them in their rights. When people are taxed, 
they in turn are supposed to have their lives and 
property protected. When one consideration of 
a contract fails, the other may be avoided. 

On the Qth of October, 1888, the news of an- 
other assassination increased the terror of the 
people. Elijah Morgan, a French adherent, a 
man of courage and unswerving determination, 
was shot and killed within less than two miles of 
Hazard shot from ambush. 

On the morning of his death he and one Frank 
Grace were on their way to town in pursuance 
of an agreement that had been entered into by 
him with members of the Eversole faction. Mor- 
gan was the son-in-law of Judge Combs, but in 
spite of all efforts from that direction to throw 
his influence with the Eversoles he had continued 

212 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

to remain loyal to French and for this he was 
promptly slain. 

His death had been decreed some time before 
this, but his shrewdness and knowledge of the 
tactics of his enemies had made him a very slip- 
pery proposition. A ruse was, therefore, resorted 
to. For a short time previous to his death Mor- 
gan had frequently expressed his desire for peace, 
an earnest wish to lay down his arms, and to be 
permitted to return to peaceful pursuits. This 
commendable desire on his part assisted his 
enemies in the formulation of plans for his de- 
struction. They assured him with every pledge 
of sincerity that he should not be molested; that 
he might freely come to town whenever he 
wished; that on a certain day (the day of the 
murder) if he would meet them at Hazard, they 
would all renew the friendship that had existed 
until the feud tore them asunder. 

Morgan promised to attend the proposed peace 
jubilee. Little did he dream that the pretended 
friends were cold-blooded, calculating enemies, 
seeking his life under the miserable mask of 
friendship ; that to be certain of success, to avoid 
any possible miscarriage of the plot, every avenue 
of escape had been carefully considered and 
guarded against. 

The French-Eversole War 213 

Assassins were placed at various points along 
the road and at convenient spots in town. 

The actors in the tragedy were all at their posts 
when Morgan stepped upon the scene, unknow- 
ingly playing the chief role. 

Within less than two miles, in fact, but little 
more than a mile from town, at a spot where the 
road is flanked by large overhanging cliffs on one 
side and the steep river bank on the other, Mor- 
gan was fired upon. With a bullet in his back 
he sank to the ground. A number of shots fol- 
lowed the first one. Grace was driven to cover. 
Morgan, in his death struggle, rolled over the 
river bank where a small tree arrested further 
descent. Grace, not daring to abandon his place 
of comparative safety, remained a helpless spec- 
tator of the agonies of his dying friend. 

Country people, traveling toward town, at last 
came to Morgan's relief, but he died within a few 

As soon as the alarm had been given, a posse 
of his friends started in pursuit of the murderers, 
but nothing came of it. 

The French faction openly charged the Ever- 
soles with the murder. The Eversoles expressed 
indignation at the imputation. They had no right 
to complain. On other occasions they had them- 
selves preferred similar charges against French 

214 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

upon no better authority than suspicions based 
upon suspicious circumstances. The murder of 
Morgan had followed closely upon the heel of 
the assassination of Shade Combs for which the 
Eversoles held the French faction responsible. 
Certainly there were some well-grounded sus- 
picions that the slaying of Morgan was an act of 
retaliation on the part of the Eversoles. 

Now the State government and the circuit 
judge began to take a hand in the matter. It 
was time. Circuit Judge Lilly, a gentleman of 
the highest type, an able jurist, had somehow or 
other seemed unable to inspire the district with 
respects for his courts. This district embraced 
the counties of Breathitt, Letcher, Perry, Knott 
and others. In each of those lawlessness had 
spread to such an extent that the judge found 
himself defied on every hand and felt himself 
compelled to request the State to furnish troops 
for his courts. 

This led to the following spirited correspon- 
dence between the Governor and Judge Lilly : 

Hazard, Ky., Nov. 13, 1888. 
To the Governor of Kentucky : 

Sir: Captain Sohan has succeeded in organ- 
izing a company of about ,45 State Guards in 
Perry County. He informs me that he has no 
orders and does not know whether he will be 

The French-E versole War 2 1 5 

ordered back to Louisville or to go with me to 
Whitesburg, thence to Hindman and thence to 
Breathitt ; but, in any event, expects to be ordered 
away from here very soon. Mr. B. F. French is 
here with 15 or perhaps more men, well armed, 
and the people are so much alarmed, fearing that 
they will be left to the mercy of these men, that 
I have decided that I will take the responsibility 
upon myself to order the Perry Guards- on duty, 
hoping that you will approve my action and order 
them on duty, and let their pay begin on the I7th 

I will not attempt to hold courts at Letcher, 
Knott, or Breathitt unless you send guards along. 
No good can be accomplished by holding courts 
in any of those counties without a guard. If a 
sufficient guard is present, I think that much 
good will be accomplished in and by the moral 
effect it will have on the people by showing them 
that you are determined to have the courts held 
and the laws enforced, and to give protection to 
the good citizens. 

Please write me and send by way of Manches- 
ter, as I shall return that way, and if I do not 
receive your letter here, can get it on the road. 
If you order the guard to go with me I will go 
and hold the courts if not Providentially hin- 

I remain, Yours truly, 


The Governor answered in rather caustic man- 

2i6 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

Governor Buckner*s Reply. 


Frankfort, Nov. 2;th, 1888. 
Hon. H. C. Lilly, Judge, Irvine, Ky. 

Dear Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge 
the receipt of your communication of the I3th 
inst. from Hazard, Perry County, in which you 
say " Mr. B. F. French is here with 15, or per- 
haps more, men, well armed, and the people are 
so much alarmed, fearing that they will be left 
to the mercy of those men, that I have decided 
that I will take the responsibility upon myself 
to order the Perry Guards on duty, hoping that 
you will approve my action and order them on 
duty, and let their pay begin on the I7th inst." 

At the time I received your communication I 
was in communication with the sheriff of Perry 
County. I inferred from his statements that 
there was no immediate danger of an outbreak 
or opposition to the civil authorities ; and, second, 
that but slight effort had been made by him to 
arrest violators of the law. 

Your own statement does not inform me of 
anything more than a vague apprehension in the 
public mind, and does not advise me that the 
civil authorities cannot suppress any attempts 
at disturbance by employing the usual force of 
civil government. / assume that if danger had 
been imminent, both you and the sheriff would 
have remained on the ground. 

The object of furnishing troops on your ap- 

The French-Eversole War 217 

plication was to protect the court in the discharge 
of its duties, and not to supercede the civil au- 
thorities by a military force. 

Under the circumstances I do not feel author- 
ized to call the local militia into active service. 
Respectfully, your obedient servant, 


The letter of Judge Lilly is significant as an 
admission of the cowardice of the entire popu- 
lation. He says " Mr. B. F. French is here with 
fifteen, or perhaps, more men, well-armed, and 
the people are so much alarmed fearing that they 
will be left to the mercy of those men " and so on. 

Had Judge Lilly been correctly informed? If 
so, what had become of the boasted bravery of 
Kentucky mountaineers that the manhood of an 
entire county, containing many thousand inhabi- 
tants, should shiver and tremble like frightened 
sheep and tamely submit to the intimidations of 
a band of FIFTEEN, or perhaps more, men. 

Was it possible that in this land of the free and 
the brave the proportion of brave men stood fif- 
teen to one thousand cowards ? Oh no ! The au- 
thorities had simply never put the law-abiding, the 
true citizen element, in a position to show its 
mettle; it had never been given a proper test. 
The attempt to restore order had not been made 
at all; if it had, it would have succeeded. No 

2i8 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

outlaw band, however strong, can, or will, long 
defy the law when a firm and determined move 
is made to enforce it. Why is it that one cour- 
ageous blue-coat policeman can scatter a crowd? 
It is not his bulk, his figure, but the uniform he 
wears, the badge of authority the law. If he 
is a credit to that uniform he may, single-handed, 
disperse a mob. The consciousness of having 
the law behind him makes him dauntless; the 
thought of duty steels his nerves. If those en- 
trusted with the execution of the law in Perry 
County had made one firm, unflinching effort to 
uphold its dignity, the period of assassinations 
would have ended then and there. The history of 
lawlessness in Perry County furnishes ample les- 
sons to other counties, and to other states, for 
that matter. 

Governor Buckner aptly expressed his opinion 
of the situation when he terms the " fears and 
alarms " of the people as " anything more than a 
vague apprehension in the public mind." 

Judge Lilly probably accepted the trembling 
cowardice of a few as the criterion by which 
to measure the manhood of an entire county. 

However, on the 29th of October, the Governor 
notified the Adjutant-General to forward troops 
to Hazard. His report to the Governor later on 
furnishes interesting reading, as does the report 

The French-Eversole War 219 

of the commander of the expedition, Captain J. 
M. Sohan.* 


Frankfort, Ky., Nov. 14, 1888. 
To his Excellency, Governor S. B. Buckner. 

Dear Sir : Pursuant to Executive order, bear- 
ing date the 2gth ult., I left Frankfort on 315! 
and proceeded to Hazard, the county seat of 
Perry County, arriving there noon of Sunday, 
the 1 4th instant, where I remained till Thurs- 
day, the 8th, when I left on my return, at 10 
o'clock A. M.", arriving here Saturday morning. 
Hazard contains near 100 inhabitants, when they 
are all at home, but I was told that not more 
than about thirty-five people were at home when 
I reached there, the rest of the population hav- 
ing refugeed in consequence of the French and 
Eversole feud which has distracted the people 
of the town and county for more than two years, 
and during which some ten men have died by 
violence as the result thereof. Many of the 
refugees returned before I left there, a number 
having joined the troops en route, and returned 
under their protection to Hazard, arriving there 
on the afternoon of Sunday, the 4th, while others 
returned Sunday night and others as late as 
Wednesday night. 

Among those who had sought safety in flight 
were George Eversole, county judge, and brother 

* These reports corroborate my own investigation and 
statements in every particular. Author. 

22O Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

to Joe Eversole, the leader of the faction of that 
name; Ira Davidson, circuit and county court 
clerk, a sympathizer with that faction, Josiah 
Combs, late county judge and father-in-law of 

Joseph Eversole, and his son Combs, 

who is an officer of the circuit court, and Fulton 
French, the leader of the French faction, together 
with the families of each, except Davidson, who 
is a single man. These all returned, except the 
elder Combs, either with the troops or after their 
arrival, and before I left. The killings above 
referred to were mostly assassinations from am- 
bush, which seems to have been the favorite 
method of warfare adopted by both factions for 
ridding the community of the presence of per- 
sons who, from causes real or supposed, had made 
themselves obnoxious to the slayers, though one 
killing, that of Mr. Gambriel, was committed in 
the town of Hazard, in broad daylight, by two 
Eversoles and two of his henchmen, and was 
witnessed by a number of people; was committed 
without anything like adequate provocation, but 
for which no indictment had ever been found. 
Grand juries and witnesses seem either to have 
sympathized with the law-breakers or to have 
been intimidated by them; but it is not improb- 
able that both of these causes have operated to 
paralyze the administration of the law, and to 
correspondingly stimulate crime. As is usual 
in such cases, I found that the county authorities 
failed to act with any degree of promptness and 
vigor at the inception of the difficulties and the 
result was the inevitable one the troubles soon 

The French-Eversole War 221 

grew beyond their control. Josiah Combs, the 
father-in-law of Joe Ever sole, was county judge 
at the beginning of the feud and Eversole and 
his friends were evidently the aggressors at 
least were first to resort to violence and when 
the county judge was appealed to by outsiders to 
issue warrants for their arrest, positively de- 
clined to do so, saying that Eversole had done 
nothing to be arrested for, and that French ought 
to be driven away from town. Thus the inaction 
of the authorities stimulated the friends of each 
faction, and each sought safety in arming such 
persons as would take service with them, and 
setting at defiance the law instead of looking to 
it as their best protection. Finally, one Sunday 
morning last April, Joe Eversole, in company 
with Nick Combs, his brother-in-law, and Josiah 
Combs, started from Hazard to Hyden to circuit 
court, and when about five miles out from Hazard 
they were fired upon from ambush and Eversole 
and young Combs were instantly killed. 

Fulton French was indicted for that killing, and 
while he may have instigated it, he certainly did 
not participate in the shooting. 

The killing of Joe Eversole seems to have de- 
moralized his friends, the most prominent of 
whom soon after left Hazard. 

The last assassination was that of Elijah 
Morgan, who was shot from ambush, near 
Hazard, on the Qth of last month. His only 
crime appears to have been that he sympathized 
with French. Morgan was also a son-in-law of 
Josiah Combs and brother-in-law of Eversole. 

222 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

And now, perhaps, you are ready to ask what 
it was all about? Well, I cannot say, although 
I very naturally sought to learn the cause. Some 
of whom I enquired thought it was business 
rivalry, while others said there was a woman 
in the case, and I think it attributable in part to 
both those causes. French and Eversole were 
both merchants and lawyers, and I was told that 
some three years ago a man who was clerking 
for French accused French of deflouring his 
wife, and quit French and took service with Ever- 
sole, and told the latter that the former had of- 
fered him five hundred dollars to murder him, 
and soon afterwards Silas Gayheart, who was a 
friend of French, was murdered, as it is charged, 
by Eversole and his friends, and from that time 
on the troubles have grown and assassinations 
multiplied, the victims being first from one side 
and then from the other. I thought it advisable 
to call out 44 of the reserve militia, all that I had 
arms for, and selected these from the best, non- 
partisan people that I could. 

The list was not complete when I left, but I 
authorized Capt. Sohan, whom I found to be an 
excellent officer, to muster them in, and gave him 
similar instructions to those you gave me on the 

Judge Lilly is very anxious that the troops go 
with him to Knott and Letcher Counties, but I 
heard of no organized band of outlaws in those 
counties too strong for the civil authorities, if 
the latter will do their duty. The troops, officers 
and men comprising the detail, conducted them- 

The French-Eversole War 223 

selves in a soldierly and appropriate manner, and 
I apprehend that they will have no trouble in 
protecting the court from violence should any 
be offered, which I think improbable. 
Very respectfully, 

Ad j utant-General. 

Captain Sohan's report contains additional 
facts of interest ; the difficulty in reaching the re- 
mote, mountainous section, and facts connected 
with the conduct of the court. 


Louisville, Ky., November 27th, 1889. 
To the Adjutant-General, Frankfort, Ky. 

Sir: Under instructions contained in your 
letter of March 8th, 1888, handed me at Hazard, 
Perry County, Kentucky, I have the honor to 
submit the following report: 

Pursuant to General Orders Nos. 38 and 39, 
issued from regimental headquarters, and author- 
ized by Executive Orders, I left Louisville Oc- 
tober 30th, at 8.05 P. M. with a detail of four 
commissioned officers and 63 non-commissioned 
officers and privates, and i gatling gun, under 
instructions to report to Hon. H. C. Lilly, Judge 
of the I Qth Judicial District, at Hazard, Perry 
County, Kentucky. 

The detail occupied 2 passenger coaches and 

224 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

i baggage car, which were attached to the regu- 
lar 8.05 P. M. train on the Knoxville Branch of 
the L. & N. Railroad. We arrived at London, 
Ky., about two o'clock, and there our cars were 
sidetracked and the command occupied them until 
daylight, when we disembarked, had breakfast 
and started for Hazard, which is about 75 miles 
distant. We traveled in wagons, which had been 
provided by Lieutenant J. H. Mansir, Acting 
Quartermaster, who had preceded the command 
to London for that purpose. To transport the 
command were required 14 wagons and teams, 
and i team for gatling gun. The officers were 
mounted. Owing to the condition of the road, 
in places almost impassable, the march was very 
tedious ; the men had frequently to dismount and 
help the teams up the hills or over rough places. 
About 4 o'clock we went into camp for the night, 
and resumed the march next morning at good 
daylight. We continued the march in this man- 
ner from day to day, going into camp between 3 
and 4 o'clock, and resuming the march between 
6 and 7. We reached Hazard at three o'clock 
Sunday afternoon, November 3rd, 1888, it being 
the fifth day out from London. On the second 
day of the march we were joined by Judge Lilly, 
when about 25 miles from London. He re- 
mained with or near the command until we 
reached Hazard. At various points along the 
route we were met by the officials of the Perry 
Circuit Court the circuit court clerk, sheriff and 
deputy sheriffs all of whom were awaiting 
escort, and who accompanied the troops into town. 

The French-Eversole War 225 

Arrived at our destination, I found the court 
house unsuitable for a camp-ground, and selected 
for that purpose a hill in rear of the court house, 
and about 200 yards distant. It proved an 
admirable site, being dry, easily picketed, in a 
manner secluded, and affording good opportunity 
to command the town in case of difficulty. We 
were comfortably encamped before dark, and 
entered at once upon the routine of camp life, 
the full particulars of which have been made 
known to you in my daily reports. I reported for 
duty to Judge Lilly at the court house on Mon- 
day, the 5th inst, at 9 o'clock A. M. He in- 
structed me that he would not require a guard 
at the court house or town just then, not deem- 
ing it necessary, as but few people were in, and 
that in any case he did not intend to try to do 
anything until after the election, which occurred 
on the 6th, and that when he wanted a guard he 
would let me know. I returned to camp and the 
judge adjourned court until Wednesday, the 7th. 
Upon resuming Wednesday, the town being well 
filled with people, the judge required a guard in 
the court room as a precautionary measure, and 
entered formally upon the business of the term. 
I noticed that in charging the grand jury he 
dwelt at considerable length upon the crimes of 
illegal selling of liquor and gaming, but passed 
murder with the remark that " it was unneces- 
sary for him to call the attention of the jury to 
the fact that murder was a crime/' and also when 
one of the attorneys at the bar wanted to intro- 
duce a motion to reorganize the grand jury, in 

226 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

order to get a jury that would indict certain per- 
sons for murder, the judge informed him that 
he would overrule any motion to that effect: 
"That if commenced, there would be no end to 
it; that the jury was carefully selected, and. was 
as good as could be had in the county." The 
business of the court proceeded slowly, the great 
majority of the cases having to be passed, owing 
to the absence of the accused, or of important 
witnesses, whose attendance it seemed impossible 
to secure. A few convictions for minor offenses 
were secured, the penalty inflicted generally be- 
ing the lowest prescribed by law; besides these, 
but one important case was decided, one man 
being sent to the State prison for one year for 
shooting and wounding, receiving the lowest pen- 
alty. The judge, in finally dismissing the jury, 
reprimanded them for their leniency, and called 
attention to the light sentence imposed as indica- 
tive of the state of feeling throughout the com- 
munity. As far as I could judge the court of- 
ficials used every endeavor to promote the ends 
of justice, but were effectually hampered by their 
inability to make arrests and secure the attendance 
of witnesses and get juries to convict. About the 
third or fourth day of the court, B. F. French, 
one of the principals in the French-Eversole feud, 
was brought into town by the sheriff of Breathitt 
County. He was surrounded by a posse of about 
twenty men who rode in in good order, in column 
of twos, each man holding his rifle at an " ad- 
vance." They went at once to French's residence, 
where they remained during the court. I be- 

The French-Eversole War 227 

lieve French was nominally surrendered to the 
sheriff of Perry County, but was permitted to 
remain in his house and was constantly sur- 
rounded by the Breathitt County posse, which 
was made up of his friends and followers, and 
which was represented to me as containing some 
of the worst men in Breathitt County. So threat- 
ening was their appearance that the judge com- 
manded them to surrender their arms to me. 
They at first refused, but finally brought nine 
rifles into camp, and, I suppose, hid the balance, 
as they did not appear any more under arms. The 
rifles surrendered to me were the 5<>calibre 
Springfield, exactly the same gun as the State 
Guard was formerly armed with. I returned 
them to the posse, on an order from the judge, 
when they left town. French, although under 
arrest, went constantly armed, and seemed to be 
under no restraint. A day or so after his arrest 
he went into court, gave bond for himself and 
several of his followers and was released from 
arrest, but remained in town until near the end 
of the term, when he left for Breathitt County, 
surrounded by an armed guard similar to that 
which brought him in. 

Perhaps the most important event of the trip 
was the formation of a military company at 
Hazard, the organization of which was com- 
menced by yourself during your stay there, and 
completed by me, acting under your instructions. 
I have made full reports of this event to your 
office, with roster of company and report of 
election of officers. I respectfully recommend 

228 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

that this company be encouraged in every way 
possible, as in my opinion it will have a quieting 
effect upon the turbulent element in Perry County. 
The company is largely made up of the men se- 
lected by yourself, and who are, as near as pos- 
sible, unbiased in the feuds of the county. The 
officers appear to be good men for the positions 
to which they were elected, and enjoy the respect 
of the community. 

As the end of the term approached, and being 
without orders to govern my further movements, 
I despatched Lieutenant Gray, who volunteered 
for the service, to London, on Saturday, the gth 
inst, with a telegram to your office asking for 
instructions. I waited until the last day, know- 
ing Judge Lilly had asked the Governor for troops 
over his entire circuit. You had instructed me 
that definite orders would be sent me in time 
to act. The order did arrive Monday afternoon, 
having been delayed two days in the mail, and 
was to return to Louisville. I immediately made 
arrangements to break camp, and Lieutenant 
Gray having returned Tuesday night with tele- 
gram confirming the above order, the command 
left Hazard Wednesday, the 2Oth. Judge Lilly 
remained in Hazard, awaiting action of the Gov- 
ernor in regard to his application for troops, and 
his request for these being refused, he decided 
not to go any farther on his circuit, and left 
Hazard with us. He parted with us finally the 
next day, a few miles out from Hazard, and I 
believe returned to his home. 

I desire to express my thanks to Judge Lilly 

The French-Eversole War 229 

for the uniform kindness and courtesy of his 
bearing toward myself and my command. 

The return trip was made in the same manner 
as the outward one, and by the same means, 
but was even more trying on the command, as 
the weather was colder and the roads worse. We 
reached London Sunday, 27th, about three o'clock 
P. M. We found cars ready for us, and at once 
occupied them. They were attached to the one 
o'clock A. M. train and arrived at Louisville 
Monday morning, the 28th inst., where the com- 
mand, having disembarked, were marched to the 
armory and disbanded. 

This ended a service somewhat unique, even 
in the varied experience in the Kentucky State 

That it was productive of good there can be no 
doubt. It impressed the people of the community 
that the State was determined to assert her power 
and majesty, and that they would no longer 
defy the law \vith impunity. The officials of the 
court and residents of the town and county were 
unanimous in the assertion, which was made to 
me repeatedly, that the term of the court could 
not have been held without bloodshed, except 
for the presence of the troops, and I believe this 
to be true. On the day of the national election 
there was not the slightest disturbance, although 
several murders and affrays were reported from 
adjoining counties, in Hazard, a thing almost 
unprecedented in its history. We had here the 
same experience that the State troops have always 
had on similar service, that is, the police power 

230 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

of the State is universally feared and respected. 
That there will be more bloodshed before this 
feud is settled was the opinion of all to whom 
I spoke on the subject. The men engaged in it 
are vindictive and daring, and will use any means 
to escape punishment or gratify their revenge. 
That the people really believe this, is shown by 
the fact that many of them had left the town 
permanently. The circuit clerk and county judge, 
both residents, left when we did with the inten- 
tion of not returning. Half the houses in town 
were unoccupied, and one of the citizens lamented 
to me the fact that whereas they formerly had 
150 inhabitants they now had but seventy. The 
moral condition of many of the people of this 
section is indeed deplorable. There is not a 
church of any kind in the county, but few schools, 
and they of the most primitive sort; not half of 
the murders committed are ever made known to 
the public; many of the people live in the most 
squalid poverty and social degradation; incest of 
the vilest sort is frequently practised, and the 
marriage ceremony is constantly ignored. I have 
counted as many as fifteen children, who, with 
their parents, occupied a small cabin, containing 
one room. It is from such conditions that the 
disordered state in the community arises, and in 
my opinion they cannot be fully removed until 
advancing civilization and development bring 
new people and new incentive to labor. 

This state of affairs renders it very difficult for 
the civil officers to perform the duties satisfac- 

The French-Eversole War 231 

torily, as a majority of the people seem to have 
sunk into a kind of apathy regarding crime, and 
hold aloof from any effort to enforce the laws. 
The fear of secret assassination or " bushwhack- 
ing " hangs like a pall over the entire section, so 
that those who would otherwise aid in enforcing 
order do not care to risk their lives in the attempt. 
I will state an instance showing how widespread 
this fear is : Several of the men in French's body 
guard were wanted in Knott County, and the war- 
rants for their arrest were brought to Hazard by 
a woman. 

Neither is this fear groundless, as is shown by 
the fact that more than twenty men have been 
killed in the French-Eversole feud, most of them 
being shot from ambush. This is the secret of 
all the troubles. The people are held in terror 
by a few desperadoes. The peaceable and re- 
spectable citizens largely predominate in the 
county, and could they be assured of protection, 
would soon put an end to the disorders. In clos- 
ing this report, it gives me great pleasure to refer 
to the conduct of the detail under my command. 
Perhaps no part of the State Guard has ever 
passed through more severe test of discipline 
and endurance. Certainly none have ever re- 
sponded more gallantly and faithfully to the de- 
mands made upon them. The march from Louis- 
ville to Hazard and back was particularly trying, 
the camp each night being but temporary, the 
men could not make themselves comfortable and 
suffered severely from the cold. The road is 

232 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

simply indescribable, being so rough that most 
of the command preferred walking to riding in 
the wagons provided. We frequently marched 
for hours in the water, the natural bed of the 
creeks being the only available way through the 
hills, and this was generally the best part of the 
road ; at other times it took all hands to help the 
teams up the hills, or keep them from falling over 
precipices. Through it all the men were cheer- 
ful and uncomplaining, and though allowed every 
possible liberty, there was not a single serious 
breach of discipline, and but few even of a trivial 
sort. This, I think, speaks well for the training 
and reliability of the command from which the 
detail was taken. 

The health of the detail * * * 
Very respectfully, 

Your obedient servant, 
Captain Commanding. 

With the departure of the troops returned the 
same chaotic conditions which had characterized 
the county previous to the term of court which 
they had been sent to protect. During the spring 
term, however, a number of indictments were 
found against law violators. This would, of 
course, bring the accused, their friends and many 
witnesses to court, at the following November 

Judge Lilly refused to share the belief of the 

The French-Eversole War 233 

Governor that the Home Guards would be able 
to suppress disorders and properly protect the 
court. He failed to appear. An election for 
special judge resulted in the seating of Hon. W. 
L. Hurst as judge pro tern. 


COURT had proceeded with unimportant busi- 
ness until the fourth day of the term. 

Considerable disorder had occurred on the 
night of the third day of court, but actual hostili- 
ties did not open until the following morning. 

During the forenoon a heavy volley of shots 
suddenly rang clear and sharp in the cold Novem- 
ber air and echoed through the valley. 

There was a momentary silence in the crowded 
court room. Every man looked at his neighbor, 
questioningly and uncertain. Then with one im- 
pulse judge, lawyers, jurors, officers and bystand- 
ers sprang to their feet, rushed for exits and into 
the street. There the crowd scattered like sheep 
in all directions, some to seek the protection of 
the walls of buildings, others to depart from town 
without the ceremony of a good-bye. 

Not until after the first stampede had some- 
what abated was it that the factions began to 
take cognizance of the situation and prepare plans 
! for concerted action. 


The French-Eversole War 235 

When the first volley fired, no one about the 
court house knew what had really happened. No 
one took the time to ask. It was instinctively as- 
sumed that it was the beginning of the long-ex- 
pected general battle betw.een the French and 
Eversole forces. 

The shooting had been done by the owner of 
a glorious jag, and if cooler heads had prevailed 
a battle might have been averted, but once the 
factions had reached their arms and assembled, 
peace was out of the question. The instigator of 
the trouble, one Campbell, had been engaged with 
several others of his friends, in a game of cards, 
on a hill overlooking the village. The hill is 
known as the Graveyard Hill. In a spirit of ex- 
cessive hilarity, produced by over-indulgence in 
fire-water, he had stepped to the side of a tree 
and fired his pistol. At the upper end of town 
one Davidson kept a store. At the reports of the 
pistol Davidson looked out of a rear window of 
his place of business. He saw Campbell standing 
on the hill waving his still smoking gun. David- 
son procured his Winchester rifle, took deliberate 
aim, then fired. Campbell sank dead to the 

As soon as the panic-stricken crowd had left 
the court house the Eversoles rushed into it and 
took possession of it. 

236 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

Two French men, Jesse Fields and Bob Profitt, 
found themselves isolated in a jury room on the 
second floor, while the court room proper was 
already occupied by their enemies, the Eversoles. 
The two were in a precarious situation and 
thoroughly realized it. There seemed but one 
chance for escape open to them a leap through 
the windows into the yard below. They saw 
themselves outnumbered twenty to one. Resis- 
tance would have been folly and surrender did 
not appeal to them. Neither side had thus far in 
the " war " exhibited much respect for principles 
of civilized warfare. 

The moment the Eversoles took possesion of 
the rooms beyond, Fields and Profitt locked the 
door of their room and as noiselessly as possible 
hoisted one of the windows. On looking into 
the yard below they hesitated. It was a high 
jump, with many chances in favor of their break- 
ing their necks, or at least a limb or two. But 
when the enemy attempted to break through the 
door all hesitation vanished. Both leaped and 
landed on the ground below without sustaining 

This daring leap had been perceived by the 
Eversoles. The two men were fired upon as they 
ran for life toward and into the jailer's residence 
for cover. This building, as well as the court 

The French-Eversole War 237 

house, was of brick. The two structures stood 
within fifteen feet of each other and fronted the 
same street. The Eversoles now passed their time 
in ventilating the thin brick walls of the little 
building. Fields and Profitt began to feel un- 
comfortably warm, but held the fort. They had 
an ample supply of ammunition and continued 
to pour volley upon volley into the windows and 
through the walls of the court house. All 
through the long afternoon the guns roared. 
Clouds of smoke hung low and heavy over the 
unfortunate town. Constant was the clatter of 
firearms. The incessant hiss of leaden missiles 
was interspersed with shouts and defiant curses 
while the silent terror of women and children 
was pitiful to behold. The whole presented a 
scene not easily forgotten by those who were 
compelled to witness it. 

Thus far the battle had proved bloodless, not- 
withstanding the tremendous expenditure of am- 
munition. Neither of the belligerent armies had 
dared an open attack. They fought now as they 
had practically always fought during the war 
from well-secreted places. Fortified in their 
quarters, they took care not to expose their per- 
sons. It was no senseless caution, for upon the 
appearance of an object anywhere, behind, in 
or under which a human being might be suspected, 

238 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

it became at once the target of many guns and 
received very close attention indeed. 

With the approach of night Fields and his 
comrade felt that they must evacuate the prem- 
ises or succumb to an attack by superior forces 
under cover of darkness, but to join their friends 
some distance away they must necessarily run a 
dangerous gauntlet. However, they preferred 
dying in the open to being caught like rats in a 

It was dark when the two desperate men 
started on their perilous journey. With heads 
bent down upon their breasts, like men facing a 
beating hail, they ran for their lives. Every 
gun of the enemy was trained upon them, and 
fired. Presently defiant yells from the French 
position announced to the crestfallen Eversoles 
that their prey had escaped them. 

When the battle started French was absent 
from town. He arrived during the night. 

All night long the battle continued with scarcely 
an intermission in the firing. 

During the night Tom Smith and Jesse Fields 
succeeded in eluding the vigilance of the Ever- 
soles and occupied the Graveyard Hill. When 
the first ray of dawn approached, Fields and 
Smith opened a terrific fire upon the Eversoles in 
the court house, the balls crashing through the 

The French-Eversole War 239 

windows, driving the occupants to seek safety by 
throwing themselves upon the floor. 

During the early morning hours two of the 
Eversole men attempted to cross a street near the 
court house, when Fields and Smith opened fire 
upon them. One of the men, J. McKnight, was 
instantly killed, while his companion escaped. 
Smith and Fields used a sunken grave as a rifle 
pit and from a tombstone Smith took the rest 
for the shot that killed McKnight. 

The strategic advantage of French's men per- 
plexed the Eversoles, who, penned up in the court 
house, were rendered practically helpless. The 
fusilade was so continuous that an attempt to re- 
turn the fire from the windows would have meant 
certain death. The balls crashed through the 
windows, tearing the wood casings to splinters 
and the shutters were completely shot away. The 
furniture in the court room was thrown about 
and knocked into atoms. The building, from 
which the Eversoles had expected so much as a 
point of vantage, proved a death trap. To re- 
tire from it the Eversoles appeared as anxious 
as they had been to take possession of it. Their 
retreat to the river bank was effected in safety, 
but to prevent attack while crossing the river, 
Green Morris and a companion remained con- 
cealed under the banks of the river. Fields and 

240 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

Smith on the Graveyard Hill were the first to 
see the Eversoles in retreat and started in pursuit. 
Approaching the hiding-place of Morris, the latter 
fired, wounding Fields severely in the arm and 
thus effectually checked further pursuit. If Smith 
and Fields had reached the river unharmed, the 
record of the fight might present an increased list 
of casualties, as both were men of great courage 
and good marksmanship. 

On the records of the Perry Circuit Court ap- 
pears an order of Special Judge Hurst, giving his 
reason for the unceremonious adjournment of 
court. It is an interesting document. Certainly 
Judge Hurst's reason for adjournment seems a 
valid one : 


4th day Nov., Term 1889. 

At this term of the Court there were two armed 
factions in the town of Hazard, the French and 
Eversole factions, antagonistic to each other. 

On the second night of the Court, the acting 
judge was shot but not wounded ( ?) in the 
French end of the town, French not being in the 
town at the time, but some of his men were and 
the next evening at dusk a " dinamite " or other 
cartridge with burning fuse attached was thrown 
over the judge's room or house in which he stayed 
and exploded heavily on the other side of the 

The French-Eversole War 241 

Court continued till the evening of the 4th 
day, when the two factions began heavy cross- 
firing at each other in earnest about and near the 
court house, which completely " correlled " the 
court, the jury, the officers and people in court 
for some time, and before the firing abated, the 
judge plainly seeing, that it was not intended 
that court should be further held, and it being 
impossible to further progress with the business 
and live, the court ordered the clerk to adjourn 
the court, and the non-combatants to save them- 
selves as best they could. They did so, but one 
shot was fired at them from the Eversole quar- 
ters as they left. 

The fighting continued through the next night 
and until about 9 o'clock the next day excepting 
some intervals of rest. The French side received 
reinforcement from Breathitt County. During 
this fight two men, friends of Eversoles, were 
killed in the battle, and it was rumored that one 
of the French party was badly wounded and per- 
haps killed and another one wounded. 

The Eversole party claimed that they were 
destitute of ammunition next morning and re- 
tired from town without being injured thereby. 
The clerk left with his keys, the jury left, the 
judge remained till the next morning in the town 
and after the retreat of the Eversole party, when 
he received news as coming from the French side 
that he and the women and children could leave 
the town unmolested provided he did not go back 
to the court house, whereupon the court and some 
of the women and Commonwealth's attorney 

242 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

quietly marched away and in pursuance to the 
court's orders this court is hereby adjourned in 

This order was signed at the August Special 
Term of the court 1890 and on the nth day of 
August, 1890. 

Immediately after the battle the factions scat- 
tered through the neighboring counties, scouting 
in small detachments, and continually shifting 

A special term of the Perry Circuit Court was 
called for August, 1890. On the night of July 
4th, however, a deed was perpetrated which was 
intended to and did block the business of the 

The town was awakened by the shrill cry of 
" fire," the crackling and crashing of burning and 
falling timbers the court house was a seething 
mass of fire, and the people could only look on 
as the structure succumbed to the consuming ele- 
ment. There was never any question as to the 
origin of the fire. It was the work of incen- 
diaries. Fortunately, most of the records were 

Many of the feudists now began to tire of the 
constant scouting. There was not enough real 
fighting to make it interesting. Occasional am- 

The French-Eversole War 243 

buscades had lost their charm. Many longed for 
peace and home. Among these was Robin Cor- 
nett, an Eversole man. Pretending friends en- 
couraged him to return to his home. He did so, 
and as day after day passed without the least 
mishap, he often visiting Hazard in apparent 
safety, he relaxed his vigilance, and fell, a vic- 
tim of relentless assassins. 

One morning (July, 1890) Cornett, in com- 
pany of his little brother, started to the field to 
cut oats. Finding the grain not ripe enough, he 
abandoned the field work and proceeded to the 
woods to peel logs. A tree, which he had cut, 
fell across a narrow ravine, elevating portions 
of the trunk several feet above the ground. He 
leaped upon it, ax in hand, when shots from the 
near bushes accomplished another foul assassina- 
tion. Cornett sank dead upon the log, while his 
little brother ran for life and escaped. 

There can be no doubt that Cornett 's doom 
had been sealed the instant he returned home. 
The murder had been planned and was executed 
with cruel cunning and occupies a front rank 
among the many infamous assassinations, which 
have given this feud such notoriety. 

At the special term of the Circuit Court, Judge 
Lilly appeared, accompanied by a detachment of 
State Guards, commanded by Adjutant-General 

244 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

Gaithers of Louisville, Ky. The court house had 
not been rebuilt and a large tent served the pur- 
pose. It soon became evident that the court 
meant business. A large number of deputy 
sheriffs were sworn in to supplant the inefficient 
Home Guards. These were at once disbanded 
and ordered to return the accoutrements they had 
received, but the few articles turned over were 
hardly worth the shipping expenses, many of the 
guns being broken. 

Within a few days after court had begun, 
prisoners were brought into court as fast as in- 
dictments were found. The jail became so 
crowded that many prisoners were kept in a 
strongly guarded tent. As rapidly as the cases 
were called up and the accused were presented in 
court, they were transferred to the Clark County 
Circuit Court for trial. It was a wise and neces- 
sary step indeed. Not only would it have been 
impossible to secure qualified jurors in Perry 
County, but the attendance of the accused, their 
friends and witnesses would most probably have 
invited a clash between the contending factions. 

The last days of the term of court, commonly 
called the " Blanket Court " had come and gone 
without the least disturbance, and the removal of 
the prisoners to the Winchester jail was also ef- 
fected without mishap. The backbone of the war 

The French-Eversole War 245 

was at last broken. A strange, but welcome, calm 
succeeded turbulence, bloodshed, and anarchy. 

A great change had come over the caged war- 
riors. Disarmed and crowded in the narrow con- 
fines of a prison, they faced each other but the 
deadly Winchesters were no longer in reach. 
Fast in the clutches of the law, the law which 
for so long they had disregarded, evaded, shame- 
fully violated, they now had ample opportunity 
for reflection and sober reasoning. The absorb- 
ing and very pertinent question: How to escape 
the punishment of the law worried them. It was 
a knotty problem indeed. The lions, made cap- 
tives, were now tame and submissive. For the 
first few days after these foes met in prison, 
hatred and bitter feeling found vent in abusive 
epithets and fistic encounters, but the realization 
of helplessness reminded them of the need of 
making friends out of enemies. They realized 
their power to destroy each other in the courts, 
but would not the destroyer himself be destroyed? 
Revenge could only open more cell doors, or 
furnish culprits for the gallows. It was this 
prospect of conviction, of punishment, which ef- 
fected at last what bloodshed could never have 
accomplished it reconciled in a measure the 
enemies of old, some of them actually becoming 
friends, and thus again effectually clogging the 

246 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

legal machinery. The necessity of self-preserva- 
tion brought matters around in such shape that 
we find men who had opposed each other in 
deadly combat, fighting side by side the legal 
battles in court. None of the prisoners was al- 
lowed bail, but after removal to Clark County, 
one after another of the accused demanded exam- 
ining trials and upon being allowed bail, readily 
executed bonds and returned to their homes and 
families, which many of them had not seen for 

With the removal of French, Judge Combs and 
others of the feudists returned an era of peace 
which continued uninterrupted until 1894, with 
the exception of a street fight in the town of 
Hazard between some of the Eversole faction 
and Jesse Fields, a French follower. 

In this battle some of the Eversoles and Fields 
were wounded, and a colored bystander was killed 
by a stray bullet. 

In 1894 occurred the last assassination as the 
direct outcome of the feud. 

Tired with a life that now separated old Judge 
Combs from his family and friends, he deter- 
mined to and did return to Hazard to round out 
the declining years of his life. 

He might have lived in perfect peace and se- 
curity elsewhere, but the humble mountain home 

The French-Eversole War 

in the village of Hazard, so dear to him through 
the associations of his youth and manhood, now 
attracted him more than any other spot on earth. 
He could not bring himself to desert it once and 
for all, in the chilly winter of old age. 

Notwithstanding his faults, and his record dur- 
ing the feud shows him to have been at fault on 
more than one occasion, he had a host of friends, 
and these tried hard to dissuade him from his 
purpose. But he had formed his resolve, and re- 
fused to be guided by well-meant advice. 

There is something very pathetic in this old 
man's attachment for a home which, for years, 
had offered him danger instead of peace, sorrow 
instead of happiness. 

He had visited his home surreptitiously on sev- 
eral occasions since his removal therefrom. On 
one of these visits he had narrowly escaped death 
by assassination. This attempt upon his life 
should have convinced him that his doom was 
sealed, that his death had been decreed. Yet, 
notwithstanding all this, Judge Combs returned 
to Hazard to reside. But a little while after- 
wards he succumbed to the assassins' bullets. 

The murder was committed in broad-open day- 
light, in plain view of many townspeople, and, 
also from ambush. 

At the moment the fatal shot was fired, the old 

248 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

man was engaged with several of his friends and 
neighbors in commonplace conversation. 

Within a few feet of the group of men stood 
a fence enclosing a lot planted with corn, which, 
together with the thick and tall growth of weeds 
and bushes, offered the assassins admirable oppor- 
tunity to approach their victim to within a few 
feet without danger of discovery. 

No one noticed the slight rustling of the corn 
blades. No one saw the hand that parted them 
skilfully to make way for the gun which accom- 
plished its deadly work. There was a puff of 
smoke, a loud report and Judge Combs reeled. 
Suddenly he straightened himself up, stood ap- 
parently undecided for a moment, then walked 
across the street toward home. At its threshold 
he sank to the ground and expired without a 

The murderers had evidently been determined 
to guard against any possible blunders which had, 
on former occasions, saved the old man's life. 
For from the moment the shot was fired up to the 
time the old man fell dead, the murderous gun 
continually covered him, ready for instant ser- 
vice should it appear that the first shot had not 
been fatal. 

After the victim had fallen to the ground, the 
principal of the assassins deliberately walked to 

The French-Eversole War 249 

the rear of the lot. Here he was joined by one 
of his confederates. A third had already opened 
fire and continued a fusilade from across the 
river for the evident purpose of pretending the 
presence of a large force and thus by intimida- 
tion to prevent pursuit. 

The three confederates then proceeded calmly 
down the river. Their retreat was deliberate. 
At no time did they exhibit the slightest appre- 
hension of danger or fear of pursuers. 

The utter recklessness and boldness with which 
the crime had been committed completely stupe- 
fied the townspeople. Intelligent, prompt action 
was out of the question for a time. Not until 
the murderers had had a long start did it become 
possible to organize a posse. 

At last the fugitives were sighted by the pur- 
suers. A general exchange of shots followed. 
One of the outlaws was wounded. He continued 
his flight with difficulty. 

A running fight was now kept up for a great 
distance. Then the fugitives disappeared in the 
dense mountain forests and the chase was given 
up. But one member of the posse was wounded. 

Several of the eye-witnesses of the tragedy and 
members of the pursuing posse had recognized 
Joe Adkins, Jesse Fields and one Boon Frazier 
as the fugitives. Joe Adkins was the man who 

250 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

had fired the fatal shot which took the life of the 
old man Combs. 

The three parties mentioned were hi due time 
indicted. Adkins and Fields were arrested. 
Frazier was never caught. 

The cases against Adkins and Fields were 
transferred to another district in Kentucky for 
trial. The best legal talent of the state partici- 
pated in the famous trial. Honorable W. C. P. 
Breckinridge, a lawyer and orator of national 
fame, had been retained as counsel for the de- 

Fields and Adkins had been French men all 
through the feud, in fact, had been among his 
most trusted lieutenants since its commencement. 
Rumor, therefore, quickly associated the name of 
French with the murder of Judge Combs. 
French stoutly denied any complicity in this af- 
fair. Then, like a thunderbolt from a clear sky, 
came the startling intelligence that Tom Smith, 
another French warrior, had given out a con- 
fession which seriously compromised French. 

Smith was then under sentence of death at 
Jackson, Breathitt County, for the murder of Dr. 
John E. Rader. As is usual with doomed felons, 
he became converted and sought to wash his sin- 
stained soul whiter than snow by a confession. 
It set forth that he had been present at the home 

The French-Eversole War 251 

of Jesse Fields on Buckhorn Creek, Breathitt 
County, at a time when French, Adkins and 
Fields discussed and perfected plans for the as- 
sassination of Judge Combs; that he, Smith, 
would have assisted in the dastardly murder but 
for a wound which he had a short time before 
received in a pistol duel with Town Marshal 
Mann on the streets of Jackson. 

This confession resulted in French also being 

The confession itself was of no importance 
from a legal standpoint. It, however, materially 
assisted and strengthened the prosecution by un- 
covering certain circumstances of which it might 
otherwise have remained in ignorance. The 
friends of the murdered judge pointed out with 
emphasis and logic that Smith had always been a 
French confederate, had fought for him, taken 
life for him ; that he had told the truth about his 
participation in the murders of Joe Eversole, 
Nick Combs, Shade Combs, Cornett, McKnight 
and Doctor Rader. Was there any reason, they 
asked, why Smith should have lied in regard to 
French's complicity in the murder of Judge 
Combs, yet had told the truth concerning all 
things else. Why, they argued, should Smith 
desire the ruin of his friend, his companion in 

252 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

arms, his chieftain, and accomplish it by false 
statements, when the truth would save him? 

French was indicted, tried and acquitted. On 
the first trial of Adkins and Fields both received 
life sentences. The cases were taken to the Court 
of Appeals and there, in an exhaustive opinion, 

The second trial resulted in a life sentence for 
Adkins and the acquittal of Jesse Fields. Adkins, 
however, has been a free man again, lo these 
many years. A life sentence in Kentucky is not 
what it seems. 

Thus ended the last act of the bloody drama 
the assassination of Judge Combs. He was 
murdered because he had espoused the cause of 
Joe Eversole at the breaking out of the war. Joe 
was his kinsman. As has been said, Judge Combs 
undoubtedly contributed to the state of anarchy 
which continued for so long in Perry County and 
disgraced American civilization. As a sworn of- 
ficer he had no right to permit love for his kins- 
man, his friendship and affection for Eversole, to 
swerve him from plain duty. Judge Combs' par- 
tiality in the discharge of his duties as judge of 
the county doubtlessly hastened the conflict, for 
while it protected one faction, it furnished good 
and sufficient reasons to the other side to place 
no confidence in his administration of the law, 

The French-Eversole War 253 

and roused them to savage, retaliatory crimes. 
Notwithstanding all this, this last assassination 
was cowardly, as all the others, for that matter. 
If Judge Combs deserved death, we may well ask 
how many of the other participants in this feud 
ought to have shared a similar fate at the hands 
of the law? 


SEVERAL bloody feuds, innumerable assassina- 
tions, demoralized courts, the purchase with 
money of slayers, anarchy in its most atrocious 
and hideous forms such has been the history of 
Breathitt County since the days of the Civil War. 

Breathitt County is not a remote section, out 
of touch with civilization, where ignorance might 
be pleaded in extenuation of the shameful law- 
lessness. Breathitt County has furnished men of 
brains, of power, and of the highest integrity. 

In Breathitt County, as well as in all the other 
feud-ridden sections, the good citizens are in 
the majority. 

Yet there, as in the other lawless communities 
of which this history treats, the good element suf- 
fered itself to become intimidated to such an ex- 
tent as to eliminate it as a factor to be employed 
and relied upon in restoring order. 

It may also be stated that Breathitt's chief 
feudists, murderers, conspirators and perjurers 
have counted men of brains among them, who, 
however, delegated their work of bloody revenge 
for real or fancied injuries to persons of a lower 

Bloody Breathitt 255 

degree of mentality. Ignorant, half-savage tools 
serve better. 

The murder lust has been rampant there for 
many years, and it is there yet. The outside 
world has heard only of the most important 
tragedies, that is, tragedies which involved men 
" of brains and power." The " little fellow " is 
murdered without much attention being paid to it. 

Within eleven months during the years 1901 
and 1902, nearly forty men had been slain in 
cold blood, and for which crimes not one has 
suffered the extreme penalty of the law. 

Why is it, then, that since the good citizens 
are in the majority, they are willing to submit to 
terrorization by a few? Why do they stand 
idly by instead of rising in their might and 
punish ? 

Will the reader answer another question : Why 
is it that an entire train load of men will tremble 
and shake in their shoes, throw up their hands, 
and allow one or two bandits to take possession 
of their property? 

It has happened in a few instances that bandits 
have come to grief through the intrepidity of an 
individual who acted in spite of any fear of im- 
pending death. We remember an incident of that 
kind during a hold-up on a western road a few 
years back. The engineer, fireman, conductor 

256 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

and brakesmen were lined up and held under the 
guns of one of the bandits. Two of his con- 
federates went through the coaches. 

The engineer, a small but determined man, 
watched his chance, made a sudden lurch forward, 
with his head butted the bandit in the stomach, 
crumpled him up and put him out of commission. 
The train crew then possessed itself of the guns 
and started for the coaches, firing a few shots as 
they went. This disconcerted the robbers within. 
They made for the doors to see what the shoot- 
ing outside meant. It was their finish. Several 
of the passengers who had been standing, tremb- 
ling, with their hands in the air, believing help 
had come, regained their courage, sprang upon 
the outlaws, disarmed and securely tied them. 
No one was hurt. 

It is the fear of the bushwhacker that prevents 
concerted action of the law-abiding element in a 
community where assassinations from ambush are 
the common methods employed to rid one's self 
of an enemy. And it is no idle fear. For one 
man to set himself up as the champion of law 
and order and to defy the outlaws to do their 
worst, is equivalent to signing his own death- 
warrant. He is liable to be picked off as an un- 
desirable citizen. 

Assassinations from ambush are always diffi- 

Bloody Breathitt 257 

cult to prove and alibis are manufactured at small 
cost. Perjury, too, is common. It is the favorite 
weapon of the defense in such cases. 

Then the successful assassin is shrewd enough 
to conduct himself usually, though not always, in 
such manner as to have friends among all classes 
of people, even among the best. 

Many of the worst men have used the cloak 
of religion, or church-membership, to hide their 
black hearts. The masonic lodge has been prosti- 
tuted by such men of shrewd deceit. 

It is no assurance of a man's goodness to find 
him sitting in a church pew on a Sunday, with 
the Bible in his hand, for even within the holy 
sanctum of the Lord the foulest conspiracies and 
crimes have been hatched in the brains of men. 
This does not apply to Breathitt County or Ken- 
tucky alone. 

Some of the most noted feudists never fired a 
gun themselves, but in their daily intercourse kept 
themselves unspotted before the world, and used 
willing, paid tools to accomplish their bloody 
ends. Such men always indignantly deny any 
imputation of wrong-doing. They have been 
known to condemn in the loudest and the most 
emphatic terms outrages against the peace and 
dignity of the State, the result of their own plan- 

258 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

The writer once pointed out to a gentleman 
from another state a certain chieftain of mur- 
derers. He shook his head. " That man a mur- 
derer? " he said. " Why, he is the most amiable 
person with whom I have come in contact with 
in a long time. That man has brains, he has 
education. That man is wrongfully accused, I 
know. No red-handed murderer could look you 
in the eye like that, or counterfeit the innocence 
imprinted upon his countenance/* 

The truth was, this particular outlaw had never 
murdered any one with his own hands, but he had 
been the directing, managing spirit of foul con- 
spiracies and of wholesale assassinations. 

This adoption of the mask of deceit serves an- 
other purpose. Since you can never tell by a 
man's looks what is in his heart, citizens grow 
suspicious of one another, and fear to express 
their opinions. That this vastly increases the 
difficulty of concerted action looking toward the 
eradication of crime, is apparent. 

Reverting again to the murder lust: What is 
it's origin? What keeps it aflame? What in- 
spires it? Is it that the savage of the stone age 
is not yet dead? That the veneer of civilization 
has in all those thousands of years not become 
thick enough to prevent its wearing off so read- 
ily? Perhaps. At least, it seems so. 

Bloody Breathitt 259 

Let us quote a recent example of this fearful 
blood lust: 

Jackson, Ky., Aug. 29, 1916. 
" Don't you want to see a nigger die/' wit- 
nesses report were the introductory remarks of- 
fered by Breck Little, who Sunday shot and 
killed Henry Crawford, colored, 17 years old, 
on Old Buck Creek in Breathitt County. The 
shots were fired from a barn door which Craw- 
ford was passing while going up the road, and 
the victim fell dead in the road. 

This illustrates the lust for blood. " Don't you 
want to see a man killed?" If you do, say so 
and you may be accommodated. 

We have pointed out heretofore in a former 
history that there is much similarity between the 
old Scottish feuds and those of Kentucky; that 
the clan spirit is yet alive; that Kentucky feuds 
are nothing more nor less than transplanted Scot- 
tish feuds. This view has been adopted by 
other writers and sociologists as furnishing the 
solution of the riddle : What is the cause of these 

But can such incidents as the one cited above 
be attributed to the clannishness of the people. 
No. Such individual acts of savage ferocity can 
have but one source an inborn, natal craving 
for blood. This and this alone can furnish us 

260 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

any sort of explanation why men slay without 
provocation or purpose. 

Bad Tom Smith, of Perry County feud fame, 
slew to satisfy this craving for blood. According 
to his own admission, it had made itself felt when 
he was a mere youth. He was a degenerate pure 
and simple. His last murder, that of Dr. Rader, 
was committed without any motive whatever. " I 
just raised up and killed him while he was 
asleep ! " That was the only statement he would 
ever make concerning that bloody deed. 

Environment has, of course, much to do with 
it. Yet if we look about us, we find that counties 
in the very midst of feud-ridden sections have 
remained free of the murder craze. 

Many years ago Breathitt, along with prac- 
tically all the other mountain counties of the 
State, decided to abolish the saloon. Local option 
has been in force there now for years. It was 
hoped that the elimination of the legalized liquor 
traffic would eradicate crime, or, at least, enor- 
mously diminish it. Prohibition is supposed to 
exist in Jackson and the county at large. It will 
not do to say that notwithstanding the local option 
law is in operation, liquor is still at the root 
of the evil. We must presume that the prohibi- 
tion of the sale of liquor is enforced. To presume 
otherwise would be to acknowledge the inefficacy 

Bloody Breathitt 261 

of prohibition laws. Doubtless the local option 
law is enforced in Breathitt as much so as any- 
where else where similar laws prevail, or, better 
said, the laws in this respect are enforced as far 
as is possible with interstate shipment of whiskey 
into local option territory remaining unob- 

The " liquor argument " is no solution of the 
sociological question in hand. During all those 
years that prohibition has existed in Breathitt, 
ostensibly so, at least, without apparent diminu- 
tion of crime, without any receding of the murder 
wave, other counties, neighbors to it, we might 
say, have rejected local option laws, and permitted 
saloons without any apparent increase in the 
crime rate. 

Reverting again to the spirit of the Scottish 
Highlander as responsible in part for the murder 
lust: Nearly all of southeastern Kentucky is 
peopled by the same stock. Jackson and Laurel 
counties have never been contaminated with the 
feuds which have raged on their very borders. 
Jackson County in all its history has not seen as 
many murders committed as have stained the 
soil of Breathitt in less than one year. Jackson 
County has never had a feud; its chief lawless- 
ness has been the promiscuous sale of whiskey, 
illicitly, of course. 

262 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

The argument has been advanced that the law- 
lessness which has disgraced Breathitt and other 
mountain counties is directly traceable to the con- 
tempt for law instilled in the growing up genera- 
tions during the period immediately following the 
Civil War. 

It doubtless furnished the foundation for the 
deadly feuds which have in times passed ravaged 
the border counties of Bell and Harlan. These 
counties were frequently subjected to invasion by 
rebel and Union troops, with their attendant ele- 
ments of lawless camp followers, deserters and 

Kentucky attempted to remain neutral at the 
outbreak of the war. But the people divided 
sharply. The State Guards and Home Guards 
frequently clashed. They ravaged the country 
without regard to military proprieties or disci- 
pline. The civil authorities had been superseded 
by military courts which often dealt more harshly 
than wisely with the people they attempted to 
govern. In Harlan and Bell Counties bad blood 
was caused by these retaliatory invasions of rebels 
and Home Guards. Many men took advantage 
of the opportunity to wreak vengeance upon an 
enemy they had feared to attack single-handed 
and did so under the protection of the mass. 
Crimes went unpunished because committed 

Bloody Breathitt 263 

under the guise of military operations. But in 
Breathitt County there did not exist a border war. 

After all the matter sifts itself down to what 
has been pointed out in the introduction: Law- 
lessness can exist only so long as the good ele- 
ment of a community refuses to rise up against 
it, and suffers itself to be intimidated. 

It should be needless to say that in a republic 
the people must rule supreme. By their forma- 
tion of republican form of government they have 
declared themselves capable and willing to govern 
themselves, and to enforce the laws they have 
themselves made. If a people fails to discharge 
the duty of properly governing themselves, they 
forfeit their right of citizenship. 

If a community persists in its refusal to avail 
itself of the right of self-government, that right 
should be abrogated until such time as it shall 
be able to guarantee not only willingness, but 
capability for self-government. Where anarchy 
exists, government has fled. Where a people 
supinely lay upon their backs and permit anarchy, 
are they longer entitled to the citizenship of a 
great state and of a greater nation? 

The people of Breathitt County, by their long 
years of inaction and submission to terrorization 
by a few, have shown that they do not or did not 
consider themselves longer the most potent factor 

264 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

in the conservation of order in society. Public 
sentiment had lost its health. The people of 
Breathitt County owe it to their manhood, their 
county, their state, to the nation, to redeem them- 
selves. For the horrors of strife there have been, 
published broadcast to the world. " Breathitt " 
has become synonymous with blood, murder, 
anarchy, the world over. We have read of it in 
foreign newspapers. 

The United States only recently demanded of 
Mexico that the disorders there, especially along 
the borders, must cease. The Federal govern- 
ment threatened that republic with war even, 
unless citizens of this country and their property 
are protected. Government might have found 
as good grounds for intervention in Breathitt 
during the past, and may yet if the murder mills 
there do not some of these days shut up shop. 

America demands of foreign governments pro- 
tection of the lives and property of our citizens. 
Yet, owing to the complexity of our governmental 
structure, it may not extend that protection to 
its citizens within her own territory. 

The outlawry along the Mexican border within 
the last three years has not been as great in pro- 
portion to size of territory and population in- 
volved as has been the destruction of lives in 
Breathitt County at intervals for years. Yet with 

Bloody Breathitt 265 

regard to Mexico this government has seen fit 
to say that conditions along the border had be- 
come " intolerant " and must cease even at the 
risk of war. 

The people of Breathitt County are citizens of 
the United States, as well as of their State and 
county. As such they ought to hasten to restore 
the good name and the honor of the country to 
which they belong, and of which they should be 
proud. The murderous, lawless Mexican bandit 
is no more a knave than the American guilty of 
similar atrocities. 

There did come, a few years ago, a wave of 
reaction, an upheaval which brought into the 
limelight of publicity the fearful state of affairs 
existing there. Murders in the streets of the 
county seat and throughout the county had oc- 
curred with such frequency and boldness as to at 
last attract the attention of the press of the entire 
country. At last a man of wide prominence in 
the State was struck down. This man was J. B. 
Marcum, a United States Commissioner, and a 
trustee of Kentucky State College, as well as 
lawyer of prominence and a leading Republican. 

The circumstances attending this murder and 
the prominence of the man slain aroused at last 
a storm of indignation throughout the land. 
Newspapers of other States condemned Kentucky 

266 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

so severely that public sentiment within the State 
itself became aroused and forced the investiga- 
tions which revealed Breathitt County's history 
of blood and crime. 

In spite of the most strenuous efforts from cer- 
tain quarters to hush the matter up and to block 
investigations of the damnable plots and mur- 
derous conspiracies by men entrusted with the 
enforcement of the law, the public was at last 
made acquainted with conditions of affairs in 
Breathitt County, which presented 'a picture so 
harrowing and degrading that the civilized world 
stood aghast and for a time refused to believe. 

Breathitt is a beautiful mountain county along 
the Kentucky River, scarcely forty miles distant 
from Lexington, the metropolis of the Kentucky 
Bluegrass, famous the world over for the refine- 
ment of her people. 

Jackson is the county seat, a small but thriv- 
ing town on the Kentucky River, built upon 
numerous hills, which give it an irregular, though 
by no means displeasing appearance. 

Commercially, Jackson is prosperous, surpris- 
ingly so under the circumstances. How much 
more rapid and greater might have been its pro- 
gress but for the deplorable epidemics of murder, 
none can tell. 

Bloody Breathitt 267 

Jackson is also the terminus of three railroads. 
The town has good schools and several churches, 
but church-going, schools and trading were sadly 
interrupted and at times completely stopped dur- 
ing the reign of terror which held Breathitt in 
its bloody clutches during the first decade of the 
present century. 

It is impossible in a limited space to give more 
than passing notice to all of the feudal wars which 
have been fought from time to time in Breathitt 
County. To do so would fill a volume. What 
the reader finds detailed in this chapter relates 
principally to the Hargis-Cockrell-Marcum-Cal- 
lahan vendetta. It is the most recent feud. 
What transpired during it is but a repetition of 
what had occurred in others. 

The first widespread feud in Breathitt County 
originated immediately after the Civil War. In 
that national conflict the county furnished sol- 
diers to the South and to the Union. John Amis 
and William (Bill) Strong raised a company for 
the Federal cause. It became a part of the so- 
called " Greasy Fourteenth," and was commanded 
by Col. H. C. Little. 

It was in this regiment that the noted Amis- 
Strong feud arose. It was the first of a series 
of bloody internecine strifes in that county. 

The hatred engendered during the Amis- 

268 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

Strong feud was more bitter than the sectional 
strife between the armies of the North and of 
the South. A feud between the two factions 
was not recognized to have existed, however, 
until about 1878. 

In that year open and serious hostilities were 
precipitated by a fight during Circuit Court. 
In the battle Bob Little, a nephew of Captain 
Strong, was killed, and an Amis seriously 

From that time on fights grew more numerous. 
Charges and countercharges were made on both 
sides. The county was in a ferment. Finally, 
nearly every family became involved in one way 
or another. 

How many men were killed in this feud will, 
perhaps, never be known, but many graves were 
filled. In this connection it may be well to state 
that the county has rarely had a coroner and no 
records were kept of deaths. It is thus an im- 
possibility to ascertain the number of violent 
deaths which have occurred in the past. 

John Amis himself, the head of the faction of 
that name, was killed in 1873. The feud finally 
" burned itself out." 

A few years after the termination of this one 
another started, under the name of the Strong- 
Callahan feud. Some of the members of the 

Bloody Breathitt 269 

factions in the Strong-Amis feud also partici- 
pated in this one. In this war Capt. Bill Strong 
headed his faction. Wilson Callahan, the father 
of Ed. Callahan, who figures so prominently in 
the Hargis-Cockrell feud, commanded the op- 
posing forces. 

A number of men were killed off before Wil- 
son Callahan' s death by assassination put an end 
to it 

The Jett-Little feud next stained the history 
of Breathitt County. It was brought to a close 
about fifteen years ago, and after the principal 
participants therein had all been killed off. As 
bad as conditions had been prior to 1878, they 
grew decidedly worse in that year, when Judge 
William Randall, the presiding judge of the 
Criminal Court of the district, was compelled 
to desert the bench in the midst of a court ses- 
sion to seek safety in flight. The county was 
in a state of revolution brought about by the 
assassination of Judge John Burnett, then the 
county judge. This crime was laid at the door 
of the Gambles and Littles. The uprising of 
the factions was precipitated by Judge Randall's 
declaration that his court would see to it that 
the criminals were punished. Judge Randall 
never returned to Breathitt County during his 
term of office. 

270 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

During the latter part of the eighties another 
reign of terror was initiated, and continued until 
the close of the decade. 

Lest we might be accused of exaggeration and 
sensationalism, we insert here the acrimonious, 
bitter correspondence between Governor Buckner 
and Judge Lilly, the presiding judge of the Crim- 
inal Court of the district which included Breathitt. 

The letters are a matter of public record, and 
are instructive, interesting, and will no doubt 
materially aid the reader to understand the na- 
ture of frequent clashes between state, district 
and county authorities. 

Judge Lilly to Governor Buckner. 

Frankfort, Ky., Dec. 5, 1888. 
To his Excellency, the Governor of Kentucky. 

Dear Sir: From a full investigation and in- 
quiry into the condition of the affairs in Breathitt 
County, I am fully satisfied that the civil au- 
thorities cannot hold a circuit court in that 
county and enforce the law without the aid of the 
State Guard. That the people are divided to such 
an extent that a sheriff's posse will not be suf- 
ficient. Several murders have been committed in 
the county since the last term, and the offenders 
are not yet indicted, and cannot be, unless the 
witnesses can be protected. Charges are made 
against a brother of the sheriff, and the son-in- 
law of the jailer, and the witnesses cannot be 

Bloody Breathitt 271 

induced to go before the grand jury unless they 
have assurance of protection. There is a num- 
ber of felony cases in the court, which I think 
will be ready for trial * * * 

Governor Buckner's Reply. 

Hon. H. C. Lilly, Judge iQth Judicial District, 
Irvine, Kentucky. 

Dear Sir : I have fully considered your letter 
of the fifth inst. in reference to the condition of 
affairs in Breathitt County in which communica- 
tion you say that you are " fully satisfied that the 
civil authorities cannot hold a circuit court in that 
county and enforce the law without the aid of the 
State Guard; that the people are divided to such 
extent that a sheriff's posse will not be sufficient ; 
several murders have been committed in the 
county sinjce the last term, and the offenders are 
not yet indicted, and cannot be, unless the wit- 
nesses can be protected ; charges are made against 
a brother of the sheriff, and the son-in-law of the 
jailer, and the witnesses cannot be induced to go 
before the grand jury unless they have assurance 
of protection." And you further say: "I, as 
judge of the Breathitt Circuit Court, call upon 
you to furnish fifty of the State Guard, properly 
officered and equipped, to aid the civil authorities 
in holding said court and in enforcing the law." 

It is needless for me to say that in a republic 
the employment of the military arm in enforc- 
ing the law is of rare necessity, and the occasion 
for its use should not be of doubtful propriety. 

272 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

The law invests the civil authorities with ample 
powers to enforce the observance of law, and 
expects those officers to exert their authority 
with reasonable diligence. When this is done 
there is seldom an occasion when the military arm 
can be employed without detriment to the public 
interests and without bringing the civil authorities 
into discredit. When a people are taught that 
they are not themselves the most important factor 
in the conservation of order in society, and that 
they must depend upon the exertion of extraneous 
forces to preserve order among themselves, they 
have lost their title to self-government, and are 
fit subjects to a military despotism. I do not be- 
lieve that any portion of this Commonwealth has 
reached that degree of political degradation. 

As far as Breathitt County is concerned, while 
there have been acts of individual lawlessness, I 
do not find in your statement, or from any other 
source, an evidence of any organized opposition 
to the civil authorities. On the contrary, I am 
convinced that a reasonable exertion of their 
legitimate power would cause the masses of the 
people to rally to their support more effectually 
than could be done in the presence of the military 
force. The latter, whatever their numbers, could 
not influence, and ought not to influence, the 
character of the testimony of a single witness be- 
fore the grand jury, but their presence would be 
a confession of weakness on the part of the civil 
authorities before they had made any attempt to 
discharge their duties, and to this extent would 
lessen respect for their authority, and render the 

Bloody Breathitt 273 

subsequent discharge of their duties more diffi- 
cult. A healthy public sentiment, and not the 
presence of an armed force, is the best support 
of government; and the powers conferred upon 
a circuit judge, both as a judge, and as a con- 
servator of the public peace, are so unlimited that 
a firm and judicious discharge of his duties will 
almost invariably mould public sentiment in sup- 
port of his judicial actions. 

Under all the circumstances, I do not believe 
that the presence of troops in Breathitt County 
is necessary to maintain the laws. With every 
purpose to support the judicial tribunals in the 
effective discharge of their duties, I feel con- 
strained to decline the request which you make 
to order a detachment of the State Guard to 
Breathitt County. But if my own presence will 
be of any service to you, I will take pleasure in 
accompanying you to the Breathitt Circuit Court 
if you conclude, on reconsideration, to hold it. 

In your letter, November I3th, you say: "I 
will not attempt to hold courts at Letcher, Knott 
or Breathitt unless you send guards along." This 
is a matter on which the Executive can take no 
action. It is for the legislative department of 
the government to judge of the facts which will 
justify an official in thus abdicating the duties im- 
posed upon him by law. 

But on this subject I trust you will permit me, 
without obtruding on your consideration any 
views of my own, to invite your attention to an 
act passed by the General Assembly at its last 
session, and approved March Qth, 1888. Amongst 

274 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

other things this act provides that " if, at any 
term of circuit court, the presiding judge thereof 
shall be absent * * * it shall be lawful for 
any other circuit judge of this Commonwealth 
to attend and hold such term of court, and while 
so engaged he shall have and exercise all the 
powers and authority of the regular judge of 
such court." 

I am informed that under authority of this 
act, some circuit judges have already interchanged 
courts, and if there are any reasons why you 
prefer not to hold the court in Breathitt, I have 
no doubt that many of the circuit judges would 
be willing to interchange with you. I happen to 
know that Honorable Lucius P. Little is willing 
to hold the Breathitt Circuit Court for you, if you 

will hold the McLean Circuit Court for him 
* * * 

Your obedient servant, 


Judge Lilly to Governor Buckner. 

Irvine, Ky., February 4th, 1889. 
Governor S. B. Buckner. 

Dear Sir: Your letter dated I4th December, 
and postmarked on the i8th, was received by me 
on the night of the 25th, at Jackson, Breathitt 
County. On the third page you proposed to ac- 
company me to Jackson in the following words : 
" But if my own presence will be of any service 
to you, I will take pleasure in accompanying you 
to Breathitt court, if you conclude, on reconsid- 

Bloody Breathitt 275 

eration, to hold it." You were advised that the 
Breathitt court would begin on the I7th, and I 
suppose your Adjutant-General had informed you 
that I had decided to go and hold court if I 
could do so. I told him on the morning of the 
eighth that I would go to Breathitt court. You 
must have believed that I would leave Irvine for 
Jackson as early as the morning of the I4th, and 
before you wrote your letter. Why did you make 
such a proposition to me at the time you did ? I 
fear you will have a little trouble in making 
people believe that you made the offer in good 

On page 4 of your letter you say " I happen 
to know that Hon. Lucius P. Little is willing to 
hold the Breathitt Circuit Court for you, if you 
will hold the McLean Circuit Court for him." I 
thank Judge Little for his kind offer, and be- 
lieve he made it in good faith, but why did you 
withhold the information from me until it was 
too late for me to confer with him. He lives in 
the western part of the State. You must have 
known that I had no time to make any arrange- 
ments with him. You must have known that the 
offer was futile, and that it could not be carried 
into effect. Can you make the public believe that 
you were acting in good faith? 

In speaking of the application made to you on 
the 5th of December, you failed to make any 
reference to the papers filed with it. Why did 
you conceal from the public the fact that a ma- 
jority of the attorneys who practice at the 
Breathitt Circuit Court * * * and divers 

276 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

other prominent men, had requested you to send 
a guard, and gave it as their opinion that the 
court could not be held without a guard? I am 
at a loss to know why you sought to throw the 
whole responsibility upon me. 

That the public may know something about the 
condition of Breathitt County at the time, it is 
only necessary to say that between the first day 
of August and the fifth day of December, 1888, 
the following men were killed, to wit: Lewis 
Taulbee, James Shockey, David Barnett, and 
Isaac Combs, " Shooting Ike ; " and the follow- 
ing men were shot and wounded, viz: Crain 
Flinchem, John Smith, Jeff Smith, Marion Law- 
son, Curtis Spicer, Luther Abner, John Camp- 
bill, Jack Barnett, Pearl Strong, Wm. Frances, 
and Breck Miller. There were also a large num- 
ber of other felonies committed in the county, 
and all this, in addition to the old docket, which 
shows a large number of felony cases. Knowing 
their system of combining their strength to help 
one another, to prevent any one being punished 
by the law, I submit to you if it would not have 
been better if you had sent a guard there to en- 
courage the good citizens to attend court. I held 
court there three weeks, and there was no out- 
break, that is true, and it is also true that we got 
no verdicts in important cases. We tried four 
murder cases and had hung juries in each case. 
Except those required to be in attendance, the 
good citizens of the county were not there. Why 
were they absent? I think it was because they 
thought it unsafe to be there. For the same 

Bloody Breathitt 277, 

reason nearly all the attorneys who practice at 
that bar failed to attend the court. 

Theories look well on paper, but when you 
come to put them in practice they often fail to 
work well. What do murderers and outlaws care 
for theories. I hope you will not think I put it 
too strong when I say that your course has given 
comfort, if not aid, to those who are charged with 
crime. They feel that they are able to prevent 
the civil authorities from enforcing the law, and, 
in view of your letter, they feel that no help will 
be given the civil officers, and hence they will do 
as they please. 

Judge W. H. Randall, Judge Robert Riddle, 
Judge Cole and Judge Jackson and other judges 
have thought it advisable to have a guard. Judge 
Finley failed to attend his courts in Letcher, 
Perry and Knott for several terms before his 
term of office expired. They, like myself, had 
better opportunities of knowing the real status of 
affairs in their counties than people who live far 
away, and do not understand the people. 

It has been published in the newspapers of the 
State that a certain judge of the State held his 
courts in Breathitt County and had no trouble. 
That judge, previous to his election, had been 
employed as counsel for nearly every one charged 
with high crime in that county, and, as a conse- 
quence, did not have to try them. On the con- 
trary, he was doing all he could to prevent their 
conviction and to prevent the laws being enforced 
upon them. He is yet the employed counsel of 
six persons charged with murder and other high 

278 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

crimes in that court. Of course, he had no 
trouble. Who can say, whether, if he had tried 
to bring them to justice, he would have gotten 
along so easily. As the papers pretty generally 
throughout the State have published your letter 
to me, I hope they will do me the favor to pub- 
lish this, my answer. 

Hoping you will find it easy to answer the in- 
terrogations propounded to you in this letter, I 

Yours respectfully, 


'Governor Buckner's Reply. 


Feb. 8, 1889. 
Hon. H. C. Lilly, 

Judge Nineteenth Judicial District, 

Irvine, Kentucky. 

Dear Sir : Your letter of the 4th inst. reached 
me yesterday. You seemed to impute want of 
good faith on my part in offering to attend you to 
the Breathitt Circuit Court. This charge on your 
part is based on the erroneous and gratuitous as- 
sumption that,the Adjutant-General had doubt- 
less informed me that it was your intention to 
hold the Breathitt Circuit Court on the regular 
day. The Adjutant-General informs me to-day 
that he did not himself know that it was your 

Bloody Breathitt 279 

determination to hold the court, and that the 
remark you made to him on the subject left him 
in the belief that you had not reached a deter- 
mination as to what you would do in the premises. 
You wrote me that you would not hold court in 
Knott or Letcher, and in your conversation with 
me gave me no ground to believe that you had 
concluded to hold the court in Breathitt. 

My conclusion was therefore logical and neces- 
sary that you would not hold the court. 

Your assumption that I knew that you would 
hold it is therefore entirely erroneous, and the 
decision you reach in consequence of this assump- 
tion is fallacious. 

You ask me a number of questions in your 
letter, but as you proceed to make replies to suit 
yourself, and to reach conclusions favorable to 
your own views, you spare me the necessity of 
giving them any response. I limit myself to 
stating what alone is relevant to this question, 
that having concluded that there was no necessity 
of sending troops at great expense to the State, 
I offered to accompany you so that, if my views 
should have proved erroneous, I would have been 
on the ground to have called to your aid such 
assistance as may have been needed. 

As the session of court was to continue during 
three weeks, and as you could have taken your 
seat on the bench at any time during the term, 
there was ample time, after writing my letter, 
for you to have reconsidered your determina- 
tion, if you had been at Irvine, where I supposed 
you were, and to which place I addressed my 

280 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

letter to you, and to have gone afterwards to 
Breathitt long before the term of court should 
have closed. So far from knowing that it was 
your purpose to hold court, I had not the slightest 
idea that you would do so, until I learned after 
the adjournment of the court that you had held 
it. I am gratified that you did so, for it was a 
demonstration that troops were not necessary for 
your protection. 

In like manner there would have been time 
for you to have made an interchange with Judge 
Little, by telegraphic correspondence, if such had 
been your desire. 

You seem to charge that I have aided and 
abetted criminal classes by declining to place 
troops at your disposal in Breathitt County, and 
attribute to their absence the non-conviction of 
criminals. If their absence produced such a re- 
sult in Breathitt County, their presence at your 
court in Perry County should have produced, ac- 
cording to your logic, a large number of convic- 
tions. But I am advised that the result was the 
same in both counties. We must, therefore, look 
for some other reason than the presence or ab- 
sence of the military to account for such uni- 
formity of results. I believe myself that the 
court is and ought to be, an important factor in 
the administration of justice, and that the pres- 
ence or absence of the military should have no 
weight in its decisions, and ought not to influence 
its actions. 

You ask why I throw " the whole responsibil- 
ity " of making an application for troops upon 

Bloody Breathitt 281 

you? It was because you were the judge who 
made the application; who demanded protection, 
and averred you would not hold court unless I 
sent guards along. There was no one else with 
whom the responsibility could be divided, and as 
you must have acted from your convictions of 
duty, I do not see' why you should seek to avoid 
the responsibility, or desire me to place it where 
it does not belong. 

I have no criticisms to make in reference to 
other judges who have asked for troops, or in 
reference to Judge Finley, who, you say, failed 
to attend certain courts. 

These were occurrences under former admin- 
istrations, and were doubtless considered by the 
Executives of the time in the light of facts, which 
I do not pretend to know. Much less will I offer 
my comment upon the grave charges you insin- 
uate against another judicial officer in connection 
with the Breathitt court. But I cannot refrain 
from expressing regret at what seems to be the 
manifestation of feeling on your part, which does 
not impress me as strictly judicial, but, notwith- 
standing this, I beg you to rest assured of my 
desire to support your authority in every way 
that the Executive can do, consistent with the 
public welfare. I have no objection to your giv- 
ing the fullest publicity to your letter. 
Respectfully yours, 


The last feud in Breathitt County, during 
which the most horrible assassinations were com- 

282 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

mitted, was the Hargis Cockrell-Marcum-Calla- 
han vendetta. 

The Hargises and the Cockrells claimed that 
the name is a misnomer that no feud existed. 

Capulet once said : " The Montagues are fur- 
nishing all the trouble and we are only innocents 

Montague said : " The Capulets are making 
the war. We are only defending our lives and 

An apt quotation, here. 

A political race first engendered the bitterness 
which led to the murders narrated later on. In 
this race the Democratic candidates were elected, 
at least declared to have been elected. Their 
ticket was headed by James Hargis for county 
judge and Ed. Callahan for sheriff. 

The fusion ticket, which was defeated in toto, 
contested the election, alleging fraud. 

At that time one J. B. Marcum and O. H. 
Pollard were partners in the practice of the law. 
Marcum had accepted a fee for the contestants, 
the fusionists, and Pollard for the Democratic 

Marcum and Hargis were said to have had a 
difficulty about a year prior to this contest, but 
the breach between them seemed to have been 

Bloody Breathitt 283 

healed. Marcum had been attorney for the 
Hargises for a number of years. 

It appears that during the taking of depositions 
in the contest case the first open rupture occurred. 
What actually transpired has been told in con- 
flicting stories. It seems that Marcum, Pollard, 
James Hargis and Ed. Callahan were in Mar- 
cum's law office. They differed in regard to some 
testimony of certain witnesses and nearly came 
to blows. Pistols were drawn by some of the 
men and Marcum ordered each and all from his 

Police Judge Cardwell issued warrants. Mar- 
cum at once surrendered and paid his fine. 

Hargis declared his refusal to appear before 
Judge Cardwell, whom he regarded as an enemy, 
and had so considered him for years. He there- 
fore surrendered to Magistrate Edwards, a per- 
sonal friend. A controversy arose as to Justice 
Edwards' jurisdiction in the matter. The dis- 
pute threatened to create still further trouble, to 
allay which Mr. Marcum moved the case against 
Judge Hargis to be dismissed, which was done. 

Here starts the war. In making the arrest of 
Judge Hargis, the town marshal, Tom Cockrell, 
assisted by James Cockrell, his brother, were said 
to have drawn guns on Hargis and that only the 
intervention of Sheriff Callahan prevented the 

284 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

two from killing Hargis. This the Cockrells in- 
dignantly denied. They asserted that in making 
the arrest of Judge Hargis they had used no 
more force than was necessary. Hargis swore 
they would pay for their audacity in drawing a 
gun upon his person, and he made good his 
threats, that is, others did make it good for him. 

Numerous unsavory charges now began to be 
made first on one side and then the other. 
Marcum at one time charged Ed. Callahan with 
assassinating his, Marcum's, uncle, Capt. Bill 
Strong, who was shot from ambush in front of 
his home in either 1898 or 1899. 

Callahan in turn charged Marcum's uncle, the 
deceased Capt. Bill Strong, with the assassination 
of Wilson Callahan, the father of Sheriff Calla- 
han. Each faction charged the other with the 
murder of some one. 

Shortly after this occurred a pistol duel be- 
tween Tom Cockrell and Ben Hargis, in which 
the latter was shot and killed on the spot. 

The two had met at a " blind tiger " saloon in 
Jackson and quarreled, with the result that both 
drew their pistols and fired upon each other. Be- 
fore Hargis sank dying to the floor, he had suc- 
ceeded in seriously wounding his antagonist. 

The Hargises at once began an active prosecu- 
tion of Cockrell and kept it up. 

Bloody Breathitt 285 

Dr. Cox had married a kinswoman of the 
Cockrell boys and had also become their guard- 
ian, both of them being under age. The Cock- 
rells were also related to Marcum, who had volun- 
teered in Tom Cockrell's defense for the killing 
of Ben Hargis. Marcum also was an intimate 
friend of Dr. Cox, who practised in Jackson and 

Not long after the killing of Ben Hargis an- 
other brother of Judge Hargis met his death at 
the hands of a man charged by the Hargis clan 
as being a Cockrell man. John Hargis was the 
man slain; " Tige " was his nickname. He was 
killed by Jerry Cardwell. 

Hargis had boarded the train at Jackson on 
his way to Beattyville. Cardwell was the train 
detective. It is claimed that Hargis had been 
drinking and became disorderly. The conductor 
in charge of the train asked Cardwell to preserve 
the peace. As soon as Cardwell entered the car 
Hargis sprang to his feet and drew his gun. 
Cardwell and he fired simultaneously. Cardwell 
was wounded, Hargis shot through the heart. 
The Hargis clan always claimed that the killing 
of John Hargis was the issue of a well-laid con- 
spiracy with the Cockrells at the bottom of it. 
They attempted to connect them with the shoot- 
ing, but nothing ever came of it. 

286 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

Dr. Cox, guardian and kinsman of the Cock- 
rell boys, and J. B. Marcum, their cousin, were 
intimate friends and frequently discussed the 
foreboding aspect the community was taking on. 
Rumors came to them frequently now that they 
were marked for assassination. At first neither 
Dr. Cox nor Marcum gave them much credence. 
Finally, about the first of April, 1901, Marcum 
went to Washington on business. While there, 
Dr. Cox was assassinated. Marcum was con- 
vinced that he, too, was marked for death. 

The proof in the case shows that Dr. Cox had 
left his home about eight o'clock one night to 
make a professional call. The conspirators had 
for many nights been watching his movements. 
He had almost reached the corner of the street 
diagonally across from the court house, and 
directly opposite Judge Hargis' stable, when he 
was fired on and he fell dead, riddled with small 
shot. After he had fallen to the ground the assas- 
sins fired another volley into his body and easily 

There was persistent rumor at the time of the 
killing that the shots had been fired from Hargis' 
stable, but witnesses were afraid to swear 
positively about anything. Indictments against 
parties for the murder were not returned until 
some time afterwards. 

Bloody Breathitt 287 

It has been told that Judge Hargis had been 
heard to laughingly say, after the fall of Dr. Cox, 
" Great Scot ! didn't he bellow like a bull when 
that shot hit him?" 

While people in town entertained their own 
opinions as to the guilty parties, but refused 
to express them, the Cockrells openly charged 
Hargis with complicity and of having hired the 
assassins that committed the cowardly murder, 
and maintained, seemingly with good reasons, 
that Dr. Cox's only offence had been his friendly 
relation with the Cockrells and his interest in the 
defense of Tom Cockrell on the charge of the 
murder of Ben Hargis. 

The next victim of the assassin's bullets was 
Jim Cockrell. He was murdered in 1912, in 
broad day, from the court house. 

Jim had been active in collecting evidence for 
his brother in his coming trial for the Ben Hargis 
murder. Rumors had come to him that he would 
be killed if he did not desist. He continued, how^- 
ever, and ignored the warning. 

By this time the Cockrells, Marcum and many 
other residents of the town kept closely within 
doors at night. No one traveled the streets with- 
out a lantern. This might have been some pro- 
tection for absolute neutrals, but must have been 
only an increasing source of danger to those 

288 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

who had grounds to fear for their lives. Con- 
finement at home was therefore the best and the 
only reasonably safe policy. 

Cockrell was shot at noon, July 28th, 1902, 
from the second floor of the court house. 

He was standing on the opposite side of the 
" Temple of Justice/' talking to friends, when 
the shots were fired that took his young life. He 
was not dead when taken from the street. He 
was hurriedly removed to a hospital at Lexington 
the same afternoon, where he died on the follow- 
ing morning. Cockrell was town marshal at the 
time of his death. 

Curtis Jett was later on indicted for the 
murder, together with others, and convicted, 
but not until after the death of Marcum was it 
that these prosecutions were set on foot. Mar- 
cum had repeatedly declared before his death 
that he had ample evidence to prove that Jett 
and two others fired the shots that killed Cockrell, 
and that the assassins had remained concealed in 
the court house the remainder of the day and 
made their escape at nightfall. 

Jett and Cockrell had been enemies for some 
time prior to the murder. The week before the 
two had fought a pistol duel in the Arlington 
Hotel's dining-room. Neither was wounded, 
friends interfered, and the affair ended without 

Bloody Breathitt 289 

arrests being made. Curtis Jett was a deputy 
sheriff under Ed. Callahan. 

Capt. John Patrick, a fugitive " from injus- 
tice, " as he put it, went to Lexington and there 
gave out a statement to the effect that he, one 
Mclntosh and others had seen and recognized 
the Cockrell murderers. Patrick then left the 
country, but offered to return and testify if suf- 
ficient protection was afforded him. He did re- 
turn and testified in the succeeding trials, although 
he dodged the officers sent after him for some 

Mclntosh was taken before the grand jury, 
but refused to testify. He was remanded to jail 
for contempt of court and remained there for 
four days. When finally he made up his mind 
to talk, he testified that he knew nothing what- 
ever of the matter. 

In the meantime, Jim Cockrell's brother Tom 
had secured a change of venue to Wolfe County, 
to be tried there for the murder of Ben Hargis. 
The trial was to take place at Campton. Cockrell 
was taken there under an armed guard of twelve 
men. He was himself given a gun for defence. 

When the trial was about to begin Judge 
Hargis refused to have anything further to do 
.with the prosecution of the case, alleging that the 

290 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

transfer to Campton was but a scheme to assas- 
sinate him on the road thither. 

In the meantime Marcum had become a volun- 
tary prisoner at his home. Clients that wished 
to see or consult him went to his house to do so. 
He appeared on the streets of the town but few 

His fears were laughed at by some ; the Hargis 
faction, including Callahan, pronounced him a 
coward. His end proved the correctness of his 
judgment and how well founded had been his 

The story of plots and conspiracies against his 
life, his many marvelous escapes from assassina- 
tion, were graphically told by himself but a short 
time before his death. The interview occurred 
in Lexington on November I4th. He told the 
same story to the writer with whom he had been 
on intimate terms of friendship. 

The story told to the Lexington reporters and 
given out in the press was as follows : 

" I will begin my story with last March ( 1902) 
when persistent rumors had it that Doctor Cox 
and I were slated to be assassinated. 

" Dr. Cox and I discussed these rumors fre- 
quently and I finally came to the conclusion that 
they were groundless. I went to Washington 
and stayed a month. While I was there Dr. Cox 
was assassinated. 

Bloody Breathitt 291 

" I was attorney for Mose Feltner. On the 
night of March 3<Dth he came to my home in 
Jackson, and stated that he had entered into an 
agreement with certain parties (naming them) 
to kill me and that his accomplices were to be 
three men whom he also named. 

" He said that their plan was to entice me to 
the office that night when they would kill me. 
He said he had been provided with a shotgun 
and $35. to get me. He displayed the gun which 
was a new one, had never been shot, and also 
exhibited to me the money. I know he did not 
previously have the money. 

" A few mornings later Feltner took me to the 
woods near by and showed me four Winchester 
rifles concealed there, and stated that he and three 
companions had been leaving them there in the 
day time and carrying them about at night to 
kill me with. 

"Of course he did not intend to kill me, but 
by pretending that he would assassinate me cer- 
tain persons, he said, would guarantee him his 
acquittal in the coming trial for the killing of 
Jesse Fields. 

" He continually led them on in this belief to 
secure his own protection and immunity in the 
Fields murder case against him. At the same 
time he continually warned me of the various 
plans perfected to kill me. 

" On the following morning after Feltner first 
warned me of my danger, I sent my wife and 
little boy by way of a deep ravine two hundred 
yards from my house in good rifle range. This 

292 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

was the only place where assassins could conceal 
themselves and kill me at my house, for by this 
time I had ceased visiting my office, and their 
only chance was to kill me at my house. It was 
early in the morning when my wife and little 
boy arrived at the ravine. They saw four men 
carrying guns run away. My son recognized two 
of them, but did not recognize the other two, 
one of the latter, Feltner told me afterwards was 

" Finally, I decided to leave Jackson. In the 
early evening I went to the Arlington Hotel with 
my wife and made arrangements to be rowed 
across the river to the tunnel early the next 
morning and board the train unobserved. Later 
in the day Feltner came to my room and stated 
that the party I had seen had told them that I 
was preparing to leave town, and that thereupon 
certain high officials of the county placed four 
men at the depot, two men at the tunnel and two 
men at the railway station to kill me. 

" I took his word and did not attempt to leave 
town. I sent the next morning for my wife and 
baby, and carried the baby in my arms to my 
office, and at noon from there to my home. 

" I was later informed by Feltner that a party 
was waiting in the upper rooms of a store to kill 
me. He wanted to shoot me with a rifle, but 
others insisted that he use a shotgun, saying that 
Doctor Cox had been killed with a shotgun. 
After I passed by they asked the man with the 
shotgun why he didn't shoot, and he answered 
that with a shotgun he would have killed the 

Bloody Breathitt 293 

baby, but if they had let him have his way and 
he had been given a rifle, he would have shot me 
through the head without endangering the baby. 

" The night previous to my decision to leave 
Jackson my sister came to me and warned me that 
another plan had been formulated to kill me. Her 
informant was Mose Feltner, who was engaged 
until at a late hour in discussing the best plan. 
When this meeting had adjourned it was then 
too late to come to my house. So he went to 
my sister's house in his sock feet and told her. 

" I was awakened at daybreak Sunday morn- 
ing, June 1 5th, by a messenger who had ridden 
eighteen miles that night to bring me a note from 
a friend who was also a friend of my enemies 
and who was in their counsels. The note stated 
that two men would come to town the following 
Tuesday morning; that court would adjourn at 
noon and that an attempt would then be made 
to assassinate me in the afternoon. I knew the 
men had been out of town but was inclined to 
disbelieve their statement because I had not heard 
that court would adjourn on Tuesday, in fact, I 
had every reason to believe that it would not 
adjourn until Saturday. I asked every member 
of the bar in regard to this and their unanimous 
opinion was that court would not adjourn until 
Friday evening or Saturday morning. This also 
was the opinion of the circuit court clerk. 

' Tuesday morning I sent my friends ahead 
and slipped out to Day Brothers' store near the 
court house, they having reported that the coast 
was clear. Then I found out that the men se- 

294 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

lected to kill me had sure enough arrived in town. 

" I returned home at ten o'clock, for it was 
then getting too close to my funeral time, if re- 
ports I had were true. Court adjourned just as 
the clock struck twelve on Tuesday. 

" I do not mean to cast any reflections upon the 
judge. You can explain it to suit yourself. But 
I assure you I kept to my room that day. 

" On another occasion I slipped away to visit 
my sister's house. On the way I met a sym- 
pathizer of those whose enmity I had incurred. I 
decided not to return and sent my two sisters and 
wife ahead. They passed a ravine on the way 
and there saw two men with guns. Later, after 
they had turned out their lights, they observed 
one man take his station in front of my house, 
and the others, all heavily armed and dressed as 
women, below my window in an adjoining 

" Last Sunday morning a messenger came to 
my house at daylight. He had been sent by a 
neutral party who did not want me killed. He 
told me that two men had arrived the night before 
and were to have taken a front room in a house 
near by and from there ambush me. The next 
morning I observed the window raised about four 
inches and the curtain drawn, in which position 
the curtain and the window have remained since. 
The men occupy rooms in that house and I sup- 
pose the front rooms. I have not been even on 
the porch since I received that message.'* 

Marcum at one time had succeeded in escaping 

Bloody Breathitt 295 

from Jackson. He remained away for some time. 
But when the leading officials of the county 
laughed at the idea that he would be in the least 
danger if he returned, he believed them. Lured 
by the reports that he would not be molested, 
and having considerable interests at stake, he re- 
turned home and went to his death. 

Both Judge Hargis and Callahan gave out 
statements to the press to the effect that Marcum 
would be as safe at Jackson as anywhere. In the 
light of what occurred, this statement may have 
been true. The statements were ambiguous, sus- 
ceptible of various constructions. He may have 
been as safe at Jackson as elsewhere, for it is 
quite possible that assassins were at his heels 
wherever he went. 

On Monday morning a messenger from a dis- 
tant part of the county rode hot haste to Jack- 
son to warn him of renewed attempts upon his 
life. The messenger did not reach him in time. 
When he found him the bloody work had been 
accomplished Marcum was dead. 

The story of the assassination is horrible and 
pathetic. As has been said, despite all warnings 
Marcum had begun to feel safe again and re- 
sumed his interrupted law practice. He had busi- 
ness at the court house in connection with the 
reopening of the contest cases. 

296 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

At eight o'clock Monday morning, May 4th, 
1903, he proceeded to the court house with affi- 
davits for filing. From the clerk's office he 
walked to the front door of the court house, and, 
facing the street, engaged in conversation with 
his friend, Capt. B. J. Ewen. 

The corridors stretching out at his back were 
full of men. Marcum was leaning on E wen's 
shoulder. The two men had been conversing for 
possibly three minutes, when, at 8.30 A. M., a 
shot rang out in the rear of the corridor. Marcum 
staggered and as he sank to the floor another shot 
fired. The first shot entered his back and 
the ball came out through the breast. The next 
shot passed through the top of his head and 
was doubtlessly aimed as he reeled. 

Just before the shots were fired, one Tom 
White passed Marcum at the door and gazed into 
his face in a manner calculated to draw Marcum's 
attention. As White had passed, Marcum turned 
to Ewen and said : " That's a bad man and I am 
afraid of him." 

The body of Marcum lay where it had fallen 
for at least fifteen minutes before any of his 
friends dared approach it. 

Marcum's wife, on hearing of the murder of 
her husband, rushed to the court house, knelt by 
the side of the body and in the blood and brains 

Bloody Breathitt 297 

that had spattered the floor, drenched her hand- 
kerchief. What sort of a vow she made then 
may be imagined. We shall draw the curtain 
over the scene of sorrow and grief at the home 
of the murdered man. He left a wife and five 

Marcum had been a practising lawyer for 
seventeen years. He was, at the time of his death, 
a trustee of the Kentucky State College, a United 
States Commissioner, and represented the Lex- 
ington & Eastern Railway Company as well as 
other large corporations in a legal capacity. 


Immediately after the assassination of Mar- 
cum, and for a long time afterwards, conditions 
at Jackson were terrible. 

There was consternation among all who had 
in the least degree incurred the enmity of the 
tyrants who now controlled both county and 
town. Judge Hargis appeared in the newspapers 
with a lengthy accusation against the dead man 
Marcum, practically declaring that the assassina- 
tion was a good deed and deserved. 

Many relatives of Marcum, the Cockrells and 
their sympathizers, left town and sought refuge 

298 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

No one dared travel the streets of Jackson at 
night who was not sure of the protection of those 
who held it in their grasp. Churches were de- 
serted ; for many months no services were held. 

It was with the utmost difficulty that any per- 
son could be brought to even speak of the matter 
in any way. Everybody was suspicious of every- 
body else. 

In the meantime the murderers were still at 
large. No earnest effort had been made by the 
" authorities " to apprehend them. It would not 
have been difficult to have done so, for it was 
an open secret as to who they were. The diffi- 
culty lay in getting witnesses to talk. Some of 
these left town and placed themselves beyond the 
jurisdiction of the court, and absolutely refused 
to return unless protected by troops. 

B. J. Ewen, who was with Marcum at the time 
of the murder, had at first declared that he did 
not know who the assassins were. Judge Hargis 
and Sheriff Callahan admitted that they saw the 
slayer in the court house corridor but had failed 
to recognize him. Then, like a thunderbolt from 
a clear sky, came the announcement that Capt. 
Ewen had decided to tell the facts as he knew 
them, even at the risk of his life. He did so, 
charging Jett with the actual shooting of Marcum, 
and Tom White as an accessary. 

Bloody Breathitt 299 

The Hargis faction laughed at this declaration, 
hinted broadly at perjury, pointing to the fact 
that Capt. Ewen had already stated he did not 
know the assassins, and that therefore his declara- 
tion was not entitled to belief. 

Ewen explained his change of attitude in the 
matter by saying that, at first, he had decided to 
keep his knowledge to himself, for his own pro- 
tection, but that since then he had come to the 
conclusion that it was the duty of a citizen, who 
respected the law, to tell what he knew, even if 
he risked his life in doing so. He told the story, 
time and again, without a tremor, outwardly at 

Jett was arrested at Winchester without a 
struggle and taken to Jackson. The Governor at 
once forwarded troops to the ill-fated town and 
martial law continued there for several months. 

The presence of the troops somewhat reassured 
the citizens. Many of those who had departed 
returned. The grand jury assembled and jointly 
indicted Curtis Jett and Tom White, who had 
also been arrested. 

Many exciting events took place during the 
presence of the troops at Jackson, but order was 
gradually restored and people took heart. Ser- 
vices at the churches were resumed, after months 
of suspension. 

300 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

In the midst of one of the trials Capt. Ewen, 
who lived in camp with the troops,, not daring to 
return to his own fireside, saw his house, his 
home, the fruit of many years of labor and sav- 
ing, go up in flames. 

It was not accident. It was the reward for his 
fidelity to good citizenship and his willingness to 
tell the truth. 

Ewen also declared that bribery had been at- 
tempted by certain parties. Later on the matter 
was aired in the courts, but nothing ever came 
of it. Ewen removed from Jackson after the 

No one acquainted with the situation in 
Breathitt at that time doubted for a moment that 
Jett and White were but the tools of men higher 
up. It is not our province to make charges based 
upon mere rumor, but this may be said without 
fear of contradiction that the testimony brought 
out at the various trials which followed estab- 
lished utter corruption on the part of those whose 
duty it was to see to it that the guilty parties 
were brought to justice. 

These " officers " stood idly by, permitted men 
to be shot down while calmly watching the pro- 
ceedings, and made no attempt whatever to arrest 
them. When outside pressure and extraneous in- 
fluence and help at last forced investigations and 

Bloody Breathitt 301 

the criminals were apprehended and brought to 
the bar of justice, these " officers " visited the 
murderers in jail, supplied them with delicate 
food, money and counsel, consulted witnesses, 
hunted up persons willing to serve as defense 
witnesses for a consideration, drilled them, 
tutored them, and through intimidation and 
threats of death forced men to commit the crime 
of perjury to save the necks of the assassins. 

Let us cite an example : A young man of pre- 
viously good repute, a school teacher, was in- 
dicted in the Harrison Circuit Court at Cynthiana, 
where the trials of Jett and White occurred, for 
having sworn falsely as a witness for the de- 
fendants. He was found guilty as charged. 
When the judge pronounced sentence, the con- 
victed man broke down completely and admitted 
his guilt, but pleaded in extenuation of his crime 
that high officials of Breathitt County, enemies 
of Marcum and Cockrell, had coerced him into be- 
coming a witness for the defense and had drilled 
him for hours so he would make no blunders in 
the prepared testimony. 

His story had the true ring about it. So 
pathetic was the story told by the young man, 
that both judge and State's attorney instantly re- 
leased the man on his own recognizance, although 

3O2 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

he asked to be sent to the penitentiary, where he 
might be reasonably safe from assassination. 

Let us see where the County Judge Hargis, and 
Sheriff Callahan were at the time of the Marcum 
assassination. Let us examine their actions ; they 
speak louder than words. The reader may draw 
his own conclusions and arrive at them without 

Both the county judge, Hargis, and Sheriff 
Callahan hated Marcum and had been his sworn 
enemies for a long time. The statements of 
Feltner made by him to Marcum from time to 
time implicated both these officials as the chief 
conspirators, although Mr. Marcum at the time 
he gave out his statement to the press, refrained 
from quoting their names. He had, however, 
done so to the writer on several occasions. 

At the time of Marcum's assassination Judge 
James Hargis and Sheriff Callahan were seated 
comfortably in front of the Hargis store. (Prob- 
ably the seats had been reserved in advance so 
as to be certain of not missing any scene or act 
of the tragedy.) 

They had an unobstructed view of the court 
house door, were bound to have seen what oc- 
curred there, yet continued to sit unmoved, and 
never made the least effort to locate or ascertain 
the assassins. They appeared not in the least 

Bloody Breathitt 303 

disturbed, certainly exhibited no surprise. Why 
should they? The conclusion is irresistible 
but we shall let the reader draw it. 

Capt. Ewen testified that he was standing at 
the side of Marcum when he was killed. Marcum 
was leaning heavily upon his shoulder. Just be- 
fore the shots were fired Tom White passed by the 
two men, turned and gazed into Marcum' s face. 
Marcum said " that's a bad man, and I'm afraid 
of him." The next moment the shots were fired. 

As White passed Marcum the latter turned 
his back to the rear of the corridor and the wit- 
ness Ewen turned with him. This put his face 
to the rear of Marcum and he recognized Curtis 
Jett and saw him standing there with a pistol 
in each hand. 

Marcum having fallen to the floor, Capt. Ewen 
stepped out of doors to save his own life. The 
position of Jett and of his gun made Ewen be- 
lieve that he would be shot next. A few mo- 
ments later Jett appeared at the side door of the 
court house, looked out, then walked calmly down 
the steps and mingled with the crowd. 

Tom White, so the testimony of other witnesses 
shows, was standing in front of Day Brothers' 
store just before the murder. An acquaintance 
invited him to take a drink. He refused, saying 
he had not time, that he was looking for a man. 

304 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

He caught sight of Curtis Jett, motioned to him, 
and the two entered the side door of the court 
house. White then passed on through the corri- 
dor to the front door, and in the manner detailed 
attracted Marcum's attention, while Jett took his 
position behind him. White immediately turned 
to the side of the front door to escape the bullets 
he knew would be coming. 

After the murder Jett and White came im- 
mediately together again at or near the jail and 
walked down the street unmolested. 

Tom White had come to Jackson several days 
before the murder, ostensibly to secure work, but 
only one man was introduced to prove that he 
made any sort of attempt to obtain employment. 
Jett and White were seen together before the 
shooting and immediately afterwards. 

It was the contention of the Commonwealth 
that the defendants had been hired to do the 
murder. One need only read the statement of 
Marcum to see with what hellish coolness and 
deliberation these plots had been arranged. 

The defense was precluded, of course, under 
the circumstances, from relying upon the plea of 
self-defense, so it proceeded at once to hatch 
up an alibi. This, however, proved so transpar- 
ent a fabrication that the jury ignored it alto- 
gether and promptly returned a verdict of guilty 

Bloody Breathitt 305 

against both of the accused. The sentence was 
for confinement in the penitentiary for life. But 
for the persistency of one juror, who refused to 
join in a death verdict, they would have been 
hanged, perhaps. 

Curtis Jett was a sworn officer of the county at 
the time of the murder of Marcum, a deputy 
under Sheriff Callahan. He was proven guilty 
also of the assassination of Cockrell by shooting 
him from the court house, the temple of justice, 
prostituted and turned over to the service of 
murderers by those in control of it. 

Jett's record previous to these assassinations 
was bad. Twice he had been accused of rape, 
had repeatedly been confined in jail on various 
other charges, for shooting at persons with in- 
tent to kill, for malicious shooting and wounding 
and had been indicted for the ruin of a young 
girl. He was a moral degenerate. His very 
appearance proclaimed to the physiognomist the 
cruel, heartless nature of the man. His chin was 
short and receding, the cheek bones prominent, 
hair bristly red, eyes deep set and countenance 
scowling and bad. 

Jett had been for a time confined in the Louis- 
ville jail until his trial at Cynthiana. While in 
prison he had given the jail officials no end of 
trouble on account of his violent disposition to- 

306 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

ward the other prisoners. One and all feared 

After his removal to the penitentiary he pur- 
sued similar tactics for a time, but there they 
broke him. He is still confined and is now said 
to have become a model prisoner. It is said he 
intends to preach after his release, it must be 
remembered that a life sentence in Kentucky does 
not mean confinement for life. 

Judge Hargis and Callahan were in due time 
arraigned for various murders in connection with 
the feud. Although Curtis Jett, John Abner, 
John Smith and Mose Feltner (who figures so 
prominently in the Marcum statement), confessed 
in one way or another that the accused were the 
leaders in the assassinations of Dr. Cox, Cock- 
rell and Marcum, the chief conspirators, for 
whose benefit the murders were done and who 
had furnished the sinews of war money and 
ammunition they were acquitted. 

The widow of James B. Marcum, regardless 
of the verdicts of acquittal rendered in the various 
murder trials of Hargis and Callahan, brought 
suit in the civil courts and secured a judgment 
against them for several thousand dollars for 
having been the instigators of the murder of her 
husband. The judgment was paid without appeal. 

Bloody Breathitt 307 


" He that sheddeth man's blood, by man shall 
his blood be shed." This threat was fulfilled to 
the letter in the cases of both Judge Hargis and 
Sheriff Callahan. Both men died with their boots 

Judge Hargis was shot and killed at his store 
in Jackson in the winter of 1908 by his own son, 
Beach Hargis. The young man was indicted for 
murder February i8th, 1908, tried and found 
guilty. He escaped the death penalty, and re- 
ceived a life sentence, but is already at large, 
having been paroled 1916. 

The judgment of the court was appealed from 
and strenuous efforts were made by the widow 
of the slain man to secure a new trial and save 
her son from conviction for the murder of her 
husband. Hers was indeed a pathetic situation. 
Mrs. Hargis employed the best counsel obtain- 
able. Senator William O. Bradley, a lawyer of 
national fame, argued the case exhaustively be- 
fore the Court of Appeals. The judgment of the 
lower court was affirmed. 

The case was one of widespread interest. The 
facts and circumstances attending the murder ap- 
pear at length and are commented upon in an 
opinion of the Court of Appeals, written by 

308 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

Judge Hobson, and reported in 135 Kentucky Re- 

Judge Hobson, in his statement of the case, 
says : 

' The proof for the Commonwealth on the 
trial showed in brief these facts: 

" On the night before the homicide Beach 
Hargis had gone to his father's store and asked 
one of the clerks for a pistol. The clerk declined 
to give him a pistol out of the stock, but told him 
that his father's pistol was there in a drawer of 
his desk and he could take that. The defendant 
secured the pistol, but said nothing to his father, 
although he was then in the store. The next 
morning between nine and ten o'clock the defen- 
dant was sitting in the barber shop. His face 
was swollen. He told the barber that his father 
had hit him in the mouth and hurt him there. A 
man who looked like his father passed. He raised 
up in the chair, threw his hand back and said: 
* I thought that was the old man/ About an hour 
later he drank a bottle of Brown's Bitters, and 
said to a bystander : ' Did you hear about the 
old man mashing my mouth ? ' and added that 
it was hard to take. Some two hours later he 
appeared at a drug store kept by his brother-in- 
law, Dr. Hogg, drew his pistol, and was waving 
it about, pointing it in the direction of a by- 
stander and his brother-in-law. From this drug 
store, after a few minutes, he went to his father's 
store. It was a double storeroom. His father 

Bloody Breathitt 309 

was in one room and he entered the other and 
took a seat in a chair not far from the front door. 
While he was sitting there in a chair, a man in 
the other room asked his father where Beach 
was. His father pointed him out to the man and 
said : ' There he sits. I have done all I can for 
him and I cannot go about him or have anything 
to do with him/ A few minutes later his father 
said to another man who was in the room : ' I 
don't know what to do with Beach. He has got 
to be a perfect vagabond, and he is destroying 
my business, and if Dr. Hogg let's him stay there 
he will ruin his business/ After saying this to 
the man the father walked in the direction of 
where the defendant was sitting. There were a 
number of persons in the store. As his father 
approached, the defendant got out of his chair 
and walked around behind a spool case that was 
setting on the end of the counter. No words 
were spoken. The first sound that anybody heard 
was the report of a pistol. His father was then 
about three feet from him. A struggle ensued 
between them, during which the pistol was shot 
four times more, all five of the shots taking effect 
in the father. Persons in the store ran up, and 
when they got to them the father had the son 
down and had the pistol, which he handed to one 
of them, saying : ' He has shot me all to pieces/ 
The father died in a few minutes. 

* The proof for the son was in substance that 
the father came up to him, struck him in the face, 
and began choking him. When he felt his eyes 
bulging out, he drew his pistol and shot him, and 

3io Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

his father continuing to choke him, he fired the 
other four shots in the struggle; the last two 
being fired from the floor. The proof for the 
defendant also showed that the father was drink- 
ing. Taking all the evidence, we think it reason- 
ably clear that the father was unarmed and that 
he was shot by the son while he was approaching 
him, and before he had touched him. Two wit- 
nesses who were on the outside of the store, were 
looking through the windows, and their testi- 
mony, as well as the testimony of persons in the 
store, confirms this conclusion. We think it also 
reasonably clear that the son was maudlin drunk, 
pud but for this the unfortunate homicide would 
not have occurred. He showed that he was 
under the impression that his father had left the 
store, and that he went there to meet an uncle, 
but expecting no difficulty. He also showed that 
about a week before his father had beat him un- 
mercifully with a ramrod, that previous to this 
he had whipped him with a rope, and on the last 
occasion had struck him in the mouth with his 
fist, and got upon him on the floor and churned 
his head against the floor; that he had taken 
his pistol from him, and had threatened to shoot 
him with it and had been prevented from doing 
this by the interference of bystanders, and that 
he had then declared he would kill him. There 
was also evidence that the son had said that the 
old man had beaten him up, but that he would 
never get the chance to do it again. Also that he 
had declared when his father had taken the pistol 
from him when drunk, that every time he got 

Bloody Breathitt Jin 

drunk and was having a good time, they had to 
do something to him, and that he aimed to kill 
his father and certain other persons whom he 

" The defendant offered to prove by his grand- 
mother and others that his father had taught him 
to carry a weapon, encouraged him to drink 
whiskey, and had caused him to associate with 
disreputable men, thus rearing him in a manner 
calculated to bring about the result which fol- 

The lower court refused to permit this testi- 
mony and the Court of Appeals affirmed the rul- 
ing in this as in practically all other respects. 

To the opinion of the court Judges Barker and 
Nunn dissented. Certain excerpts of Judge 
Barker's opinion are of prime importance here 
and corroborate what has been said concerning 
Judge Hargis in even stronger language than we 
have employed. 

This opinion says (in part) : 

" James Hargis is shown in this record to have 
been a savage, cruel man; that he had a high, 
vindictive temper, and allowed neither fear, nor 
remorse, nor pity to come between him and the 
objects of his passionate resentment. * * * 
James Hargis was a man of violence and of 
blood. He had established in the county of 
Breathitt a reign of terror under the influence of 
which the law was paralyzed and its ministers 

312 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

overrun. He is pictured as a man of gigantic 
frame, savage temper and indomitable courage. 
He had surrounded himself with armed mer- 
cenaries, whose minds he inflamed with drink, 
and who seemed to be willing to do his bidding 
even to the point of assassinating his enemies 
without fear of the consequences of their crimes 
and without remorse or pity for the result. 

" He had not only broken down the law and 
terrorized its officers, but he had made the temple 
of justice itself the rendezvous for assassins who, 
sheltered behind walls, reddened its portals with 
the blood of its votaries. He literally ingrafted 
upon the civilization of the twentieth century the 
savagery of the fifth, and introduced into a com- 
munity of law and order the merciless ferocity of 
the middle ages." 


The other leader of the Hargis faction, Ed. 
Callahan, died as violently as did the victims 
which he has been accused of sending to their 

The assassination took place Saturday, May 
4th, 1912, in the middle of the forenoon, at 
Crocketsville, a village some twenty miles from 

Some two years before a similar attempt had 
miscarried, although Callahan was then seriously 

Bloody Breathitt 313 

It has already been stated that Mose Feltner, 
John Smith and others had in their confessions 
implicated Ed. Callahan and Judge Hargis in 
various murders. After the confession John 
Smith had been released from custody on the 
murder charges against him, and he became the 
bitter, unrelenting enemy of Callahan and Hargis. 
John Smith was accused with several others of 
shooting and wounding Callahan from ambush. 
Callahan escaped death then by a narrow margin. 
From that time on he felt that his end was near. 
He had been heard to say on several occasions 
that his enemies would eventually get him, and 
they did. 

After this attempt on his life he fortified his 
home and yard with a palisade. It was so ar- 
ranged that he could pass from the store to his 
home under the protection of this stockade. But 
just two years later even these precautions failed 
to save him. He was shot from an ambush 
across the narrow valley while in his store. He 
stood practically on the same spot when killed 
as he had been standing two years and one day 
previous when he was shot from the same place 
and seriously wounded. 

After the murder the Commonwealth found 
much difficulty in ferreting out the murderers, 
or to secure proof which would convict them in 

314 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

a court of law. Rumor readily pointed out the 
guilty men, but the State could not rest its case 
on rumor alone. It must have competent evi- 

In the difficult task of securing it the Common- 
wealth was ably assisted by a daughter of the 
murdered man. She, in fact, had taken the ini- 
tiative in the matter, rode fearlessly and untir- 
ingly night and day making inquiries, listening, 
watching, employing spies to assist her, until at 
last a number of men were arrested and held in 
the toils of the law. 

The men indicted were " Fletch " Deaton, Dan 
Deaton, James Deaton, Dock Smith, Elisha 
Smith, Asberry Mclntosh, Andrew Johnson, Abe 
Johnson, Billy Johnson, Abe's son, Willie John- 
son, John's son, " Red Tom " Davidson, John 
Clear and Tom Deaton, Bill's son. 

The story of the conspiracy which resulted in 
Callahan's final removal from earthly activities, 
is a long one. It reads like a dime novel. The 
setting of the story is dramatic. The court's 
opinion traces almost step by step the various 
movements of the conspirators. 

There are about seven principal places that 
figure in this tragedy (quoting in substance the 
opinion) : The home of Ed. Callahan on Long's 
Creek, about one mile from the Middle Fork of 

Bloody Breathitt 315 

the Kentucky River; Abe Johnson's residence on 
the same river, about three or four miles above 
the mouth of Long's Creek; the town of Buck- 
horn on the Middle Fork River, about two miles 
above Abe Johnson's home ; the home of John E. 
Deaton, at the mouth of Caney on the North 
Fork of the Kentucky River; James Beaton's 
home on Caney Creek, about two miles above 
its mouth, and the town of Jackson, the county 
seat of Breathitt County, located further down 
the North Fork, are the principal places referred 

Fletch Deaton resided in Jackson; Callahan 
conducted a general store next to his residence 
on Long's Creek, twenty miles from Jackson. 

Two years and one day before the killing of 
Callahan he had been shot and dangerously 
wounded by unknown persons concealed on the 
hillside directly across the creek from the store. 

The palisade built after that extended from his 
residence to the rear of his store so that he could 
pass from one to the other without being seen 
from the mountain across the creek. 

The murder occurred on Saturday, May 4th, 
1912, about the middle of the forenoon. On the 
Sunday before he went from his home in a gaso- 
line boat in company with Clifton Gross, his son- 
in-law, to Athol, a railroad station on the Middle 

316 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

Fork of the Kentucky River, and thence on the 
following Monday he went to Jackson, which was 
the home of Fletch Deaton and of his codefen- 
dants, Red Tom Davidson and Govan Smith. 
Callahan was seen on the streets of Jackson on 
that day by several people. He left Jackson 
on the train at 2.20 P. M. for Louisville to buy 
a spring stock of goods for his store. His pres- 
ence in Jackson, as well as his departure for 
Louisville and the purposes of his visit, were well 
known in Jackson. Several of the defendants 
who lived on the Middle Fork, had gone down 
the stream on timber rafts and on their return by 
way of Jackson saw Callahan at the railroad sta- 
tion at Beattyville Junction on his way to Louis- 
ville. It was Callahan's habit to ship his goods 
to Elkatawa, on the Lexington & Eastern Rail- 
road, where he would place them on freight boats 
and take them up the river to the mouth of Long's 
Creek, thence on wagons to his home. He usually 
accompanied the goods in person. 

Several years ago Fletch Deaton's brother, 
James Deaton, was killed at the mouth of Long's 
Creek in a fight, and Ed. Callahan and several 
other persons were jointly indicted for that kill- 
ing, but with his usual luck escaped punishment 
for he was acquitted. Fletch Deaton aided in the 

Bloody Breathitt '317 

prosecutkm of Callahan, and bad blood had 
existed between them since that time. 

Furthermore, shortly before the killing of Cal- 
lahan in May, 1912, John Davidson, a nephew 
of Fletch Deaton, and a brother of " Red Tom " 
Davidson, and Levi Johnson were killed at Buck- 
horn, in Perry County. Four men were jointly 
indicted for these murders. Fletch Deaton and 
several of the others indicted with him for mur- 
dering Callahan assisted and took an active part 
in the prosecution of the men charged with the 
murder of Davidson and Johnson. Callahan was 
accused by them of complicity in those murders 
and of aiding the defendants to escape punish- 
ment. Fletch Deaton had been heard to say on 
various occasions that it would be impossible to 
secure the conviction of the slayers of Davidson 
and Johnson so long as Callahan was alive, and 
that he must be killed before those cases came 
up for trial. 

Again it developed in the proof that Jase 
Deaton, Fletch Deaton's nephew, and Red Tom 
Davidson, also accused of killing Callahan, were 
tried in the Bourbon Circuit Court on the charge 
of killing John Abner in the town of Jackson 
several years before, and that Callahan had been 
active in the prosecution against them, employing 
counsel and supplying money. 

318 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

It further appears that Jase Deaton referred 
to above had been killed at the home of Anse 
White, some while before the killing of Callahan, 
by Anse White. White was tried for this killing 
in the Montgomery Circuit Court and also 
acquitted. This acquittal had been attributed to 
the activity in behalf of White on the part of 
Ed. Callahan. 

The proof on the trial of Fletch Deaton and 
of Andrew Johnson showed that Callahan came 
to his death at the hands of three men, who had 
concealed themselves on the mountainside across 
the creek from Callahan's store. One of the 
witnesses for the prosecution testified that he 
recognized Dock Smith and Andrew Johnson as 
two of the assassins, that he saw a third, but 
failed to recognize him. Dock Smith himself 
testified that the third man was James Deaton 
of Caney Creek, a son of Fletch Deaton. 

All the trials of the men accused of the murder 
of Callahan were held at Winchester, Clark 
County. In each of the cases, with the excep- 
tion of the one against Red Tom Davidson, the 
defense relied upon alibis, claiming that they were 
in Jackson on the day of the killing. 

Dock Smith and Govan at the critical moment, 
realizing their situation, made a full and volun- 

Bloody Breathitt 319 

tary confession of all they knew regarding the 
murder of Callahan. 

As heretofore stated, Callahan was shot on 
Saturday forenoon. On the preceding Wednes- 
day, about two o'clock P. M., Dock Smith met 
Andrew Johnson on the Middle Fork just below 
the mouth of Gay's Creek. Johnson there told 
Dock Smith that James Deaton wanted Dock and 
Andrew Johnson to help kill Callahan, and for 
Dock to go to Deaton's house that night. Smith 
says that Johnson asked him if he had a gun, 
and he told Johnson that his gun was at his 
father's; that Johnson then told him he would 
go back home to Granville Johnson's, and would 
meet Smith there that night; that Smith went to 
his father's, got his gun, ate his supper, and then 
went to the mouth of Orville's branch and there 
met Andrew Johnson, Willie Johnson, Tom 
Deaton and Billie Johnson. From that point 
Smith and Andrew Johnson proceeded to the 
house of James Deaton on Caney Creek, which 
they reached late in the night, finding James and 
Dan Deaton there. That night the four discussed 
the proposed killing of Callahan. James Deaton 
told his confederates that on the next morning 
he would go to his father's at Jackson, and learn 
from him, Fletch Deaton, what definite plans had 
been made about the killing of Callahan, and 

320 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

would get " Red Tom " Davidson's Savage rifle. 
The next morning, Thursday, James Beaton and 
Dan Deaton left James Deaton's house and went 
down Caney Creek towards John E. Deaton's, 
Dock Smith and Andrew Johnson remaining at 
James Deaton's. 

Late on Thursday evening James Deaton came 
home from Jackson riding " Red Tom " David- 
son's mule, and brought along a gun which he 
said belonged to Red Tom. After supper Smith, 
Johnson and James Deaton left the latter 's resi- 
dence, Dock Smith riding and carrying the gun, 
Johnson and Deaton on foot. They proceeded 
to the home of John E. Deaton, where they met 
Bob Deaton, another of the accused. Here Bob 
joined them in the expedition. The four then 
went to Abe Johnson's, on the Middle Fork, about 
three miles above the mouth of Long's Creek, ar- 
riving there after midnight on Friday morning. 

Friday was spent around Abe Johnson's. At 
noon they sent for Dan Deaton, whom they had 
left at the home of James Deaton on the morn- 
ing of Thursday. Dan responded, and all of 
them again discussed plans for the murder of 
Callahan. James Deaton told Abe Johnson and 
Billy Johnson that his father, Fletch Deaton, 
wanted them to come to Jackson on the train 
Saturday morning, so they could be there as wit- 

Bloody Breathitt 321 

nesses to prove the alibi, and that Willie John- 
son was to come with them. It was arranged 
that Dock Smith, Andrew Johnson, Bob Deaton 
and Dan Deaton were to go down to the Grand 
Sire Rock on the Middle Fork, below the mouth 
of Long's Creek, to watch for Callahan and Anse 
White, who were expected to come up on Calla- 
han's boats on that day. This arrangement was 
carried out. 

Before starting, however, they procured two 
quarts of whiskey, and drank about half of it 
before they left Abe Johnson's, about two o'clock 
on Saturday morning. Abe Johnson, Billie John- 
son and Willie Johnson went to Jackson; and 
the other five men, Dock Smith, Andrew John- 
son, James Deaton, Dan Deaton and Bob Deaton, 
went toward Long's Creek. All had guns. Be- 
fore leaving Abe Johnson's they procured a 
bucket of provisions, and went by the home of 
Granville Johnson, where they procured another 
bucket of provisions. There they boarded Gran- 
ville Johnson's boat and started down the river, 
but the boat began to leak, and being too small 
to carry them all, they procured another boat. 
At the mouth of Long's Creek the boats were 
abandoned. From there they went to the home 
of Willie Deaton, son of James Deaton, to in- 
quire whether Callahan had returned home, and 

322 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

were told that Callahan had left the boats and 
gone home the evening before. After borrowing 
a gun from Willie Deaton, Dan and Bob Deaton 
went to the Grand Sire Rock for the purpose of 
watching for Callahan's boats and to kill Anse 
White, who had remained in charge of them. 

In the meantime Dock Smith, Andrew John- 
son and James Deaton went to the hillside 
across the creek from Callahan's store, arriving 
there shortly before daylight on Saturday morn- 
ing. They placed themselves at a point where 
they could see the front of Callahan's store. 
Two of them prepared forks about 18 inches 
long, which they drove in the ground to use as 
rests in shooting, one of them piling up some 
rocks upon which to rest his weapon. They 
watched for Callahan until between nine and ten 
o'clock, without catching sight of him. 

The front of Callahan's store contained a glass 
window, and they could see the outline or form 
of a man passing behind the window on the in- 
side of the store. Concluding that the shadow 
thus cast must be that of Callahan, they fired 
six shots through the window, three of them tak- 
ing effect and mortally wounding him. Then 
the assassins became panic-stricken and left the 
places of concealment hurriedly, going through 

Bloody Breathitt 323 

the backwoods to the home of Abe Johnson, 
where they got their dinner. 

After dinner "Trigger Eye" Deaton carried 
them across the Middle Fork River, and from 
there to John E. Beaton's home, where they ar- 
rived shortly after dark. By devious routes the 
three assassins reached Jackson and the home of 
Fletch Deaton shortly before daylight Sunday 
morning. There they found a number of the 
men present who were to serve as witnesses to 
establish an alibi for the slayers. 

The alibi was, however completely broken 
down by witnesses for the Commonwealth, with 
the result that a number of the conspirators are 
now doing time in the State penitentiary. This 
closes the chapter on the Hargis-Cockrell- 
Marcum-Callahan feud, one of blood, terroriza- 
tion, Dark Age savagery in the twentieth cen- 
tury; in the very midst of our country which 
prides itself upon a civilization superior to that 
of other countries. 

But for the blunder the despots committed in 
slaying Marcum, whose prominence and the pe- 
culiarly atrocious circumstances of his murder 
at last forced a thorough airing of conditions, 
they might have gone on unmolested, continued 
the record of assassination, and have added many 
more pages of blood to the county's history. 

324 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

The prosecution of the slayers of Marcum, 
Dr. Cox, James Cockrell, Judge Hargis and Ed. 
Callahan was prompt and energetic. It shows a 
return of a more healthy public sentiment. Yet, 
murders are entirely too frequent in Breathitt, 
and in Kentucky at large, for that matter. 

Breathitt has been termed " the plague spot of 
the Commonwealth.'* It cannot wipe out the 
past; what has been done is done. But it may 
yet redeem itself by making such horrors as we 
have depicted here, impossible in the future. 

There is a fine citizenship in the county. It has 
suffered much, and deserves sympathy along with 
censure. It is up to the good people to see that 
peace and order return and is maintained hence- 
forth and forever. We trust they will never 
more submit to unbridled crime and anarchy. It 
is up to them to prove themselves American citi- 
zens by exerting true patriotism at home. 


IT would be erroneous to conclude that the his- 
tory of Kentucky's famous, or notorious feuds 
is completed here. The material at hand has, un- 
fortunately, not been exhausted by any means. 

While the Hatfields and McCoys fought to 
the death in Pike County, Kentucky, and along 
the borders of West Virginia, a bloody drama 
was being enacted in Rowan County. White the 
French-Eversole war raged in Perry County, 
many other counties suffered similarly during 
identically the same period. The eighties were 
a decade of blood, for during those years Harlan 
was in the clutches of murderers and anarchy 
reigned supreme. Letcher, Bell and Knott passed 
through like bloody experiences. In Clay County 
feudal wars raged for years and never disap- 
peared completely until the close of the last cen- 
tury. The list of counties drenched with the 
blood of their citizens might yet be extended. To 
describe all the feuds in detail would, however, 
prove repetitive, even monotonous, and be only 
cumulative. To lengthen the list of assassinations 
could serve no beneficent purpose. 

326 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

Some years ago we published an edition of 
Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies. We 
closed the volume in the belief that feuds had 
ended once and for all times. But the worst 
period in all the bloody history of Breathitt was 
since then. 

At the time of the publication of the first edi- 
tion (from which some writers have quoted 
freely without giving us credit), we were charged 
with defaming the State, although it was ad- 
mitted that the truth had been faithfully por- 
trayed. It was not our intention then to malign 
the State, nor is it now. 

We have simply compiled from facts a history 
of past events. Of what use is any history but 
to record past events that future generations 
might take lessons therefrom and be guided 
thereby ? 

Ignorance of true conditions does not, and 
never did bring about correction of evils. 

The crusade against commercialized vice, the 
liquor traffic and other body and soul destroying 
evils can succeed only through full and complete 

This history furnishes a study for the psychol- 
ogist as well as for the criminologist We can- 
not study crime and its manifold phases or point 
out remedies by studying the lives of saints. To 

Conclusion 327 

find the original causes of social and political 
diseases we must go where these have existed 
or still exist. It would be silly to attempt to 
prove the result of the drink habit by the lives 
of teetotalers. 

There are those who would be overcautious, 
who believe in the policy enunciated by the 
proverb : " Never mention a rope in the home of 
a man that has been hanged." Had this prin- 
ciple at all times been adhered to, reforms would 
have been few. People will not rise to battle 
against evils until they are first made acquainted 
with the fact that the evils exist. It was due to 
the publicity given by the newspapers of con- 
ditions in Breathitt County that a thorough 
clean-up was inaugurated there. 

If it be proper and right to publish nothing 
of a criminal or degrading nature, then we must 
of necessity put the ban upon the Bible. 

What was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ but 
a bloody tragedy. The Bible gives us a detailed 
account of the awful, cruel, lawless conspiracy 
to do murder upon an innocent being. Judas 
prepared the ambush, as it were. He had the 
decency to go and hang himself, although he had 
nothing to fear from the authorities who had 
hired him to betray the Master. 

328 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

The story of David and Absalom is the bloody 
history of a family feud on a large scale. 

The murder of Abel by his brother Cain is 
taught the children at Sunday school, not for 
the purpose of entertaining them with bloodshed, 
or to encourage them to go and do likewise, but 
to make crime odious. 

The history of the Moabites and other races 
and tribes is one long chapter of outrages. 
Crimes of unnamable character are recited at 
length in the Holy Book. 

The histpry of the reformation is one of blood 
ard crime. To exclude secular or sacred history 
because they narrate crimes and bloodshed and 
horrors, would mean the withdrawal of the 
greatest weapons with which modern progress 
fights its battles in shaping the minds of men. 

We may gain invaluable lessons from this his- 
tory if it be read with that intention. It is an 
appeal to people everywhere to be true to their 
citizenship. That Kentucky has furnished suit- 
able material with which to illustrate and demon- 
strate the results of a weak, unpatriotic, disloyal 
citizenship, is not the fault of the historian. The 
facts were at hand, they were apt, and were used. 

Just now there is a nation-wide appeal made 
for a true Americanism. The fact that the ap- 
peal is being made, seems to us an acknowledg- 

Conclusion 329 

ment that true Americanism has deteriorated and 
needs ingrafting anew. 

We join in this appeal, and shall add that had 
true Americanism prevailed in the feud-cursed 
sections of Kentucky, this bloody history could 
never have been written there would have been 
a total absence of material for one. 

What is true Americanism? It is not place 
of birth. It is nothing more, but nothing less, 
than undivided loyalty to country. 

What is loyalty? When is a citizen loyal to 
his country? Waving his country's flag and 
cheering it on a Fourth of July is but an out- 
ward demonstration of loyalty. A citizen is 
never loyal until he becomes and is faithful to 
the law; when he upholds and assists others in 
upholding the lawful authorities unswervingly. 
That is loyalty. There is no other definition for 
the word. So the citizen who refuses to obey 
the law himself in the first place, and makes no 
efforts to assist others in its enforcement, is not 
loyal to his country. When he has ceased to be 
loyal he becomes disloyal, and disloyalty is 

The true American, therefore, is loyal and has 
the courage to prove that loyalty whenever occa- 
sion arises. 

One need not put on a uniform and fight battles 

330 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

against a foreign enemy to prove his patriotism. 
The patriot the truly loyal citizen serves his 
country well by exercising that loyalty at home. 

Good citizenship carries with it more than the 
simple right to vote. That right has obligations 
attached to it. The chief obligation is loyalty. 

The moment loyalty weakens, a wedge of 
social and political corruption enters; once that 
wedge is driven deeper government must totter 
and fall, and anarchy steps in its place. 

During the Civil War hundreds of thousands 
of Americans gave up their lives " that the na- 
tion might live." The nation is an aggregation 
of States, the State a union of communities, and 
communities are formed by families. 

To preserve a nation healthy that it may live, 
the States must also be so. But a State cannot 
be so if portions of it are diseased with social 
and political corruption. When a sore spot ap- 
pears it ought to be cauterized at once without 
waiting for it to develop into an eating, destroy- 
ing cancer. 

The spirit of loyalty must be revived and kept 
alive in the minds and hearts of all citizens. Only 
through it can the evil impulses of the criminally 
inclined be controlled. 

The citizen who is loyal should always reflect, 
when he begins to lose courage, that the good 

Conclusion 331 

citizens are in the majority, and that the vicious 
element is almost universally cowardly. The 
criminal has the fear of the law although he 
defies it for a time. 

We have narrated at great length the stealthy 
preparations made by the murderers of Callahan. 
The cool and apparently deliberate manner with 
which their plans were executed would lead one 
to believe that they feared no law. 

Yet we have seen how a moment after the crime 
had been committed and its perpetrators realized 
that they were murderers in fact, they " stam- 
peded," the proof shows; they trembled with fear, 
though no one was on their tracks then. Their 
hearts turned to water. What did they fear? 

The bloody dictators of Breathitt County had 
abrogated the law, as they believed, yet feared the 
law they pretended to despise. This is clearly 
established by the methods with which they killed 
off their enemies. They resorted to secret as- 
sassination in each case because it would make 
discovery and punishment difficult, if not impos- 
sible. Each assassination had been shrewdly and 
carefully planned. Notwithstanding their tem- 
porary power and supremacy they lived in con- 
stant fear and dread, believing that punishment 
would and must sooner or later overtake them. 

332 Kentucky's Famous Feuds and Tragedies 

This belief was strengthened by the fate of other 
criminals elsewhere. 

If, then, the criminal fears the arm of the law, 
it requires very simple reasoning to come to the 
conclusion that the criminally inclined can, by 
the sure guaranty of swift, condign punishment 
be intimidated and forced into abstaining from 
following that inclination, and be so put in fear 
that he will think twice before he gives his ata^ 
vistic tendencies free reign. 

This history was written to teach a moral. The 
remedies suggested here for lawlessness and con- 
tempt for the law, may be applied with equal 
benefit where mob spirit is rampant. The mobist, 
to coin a phrase, that starts out to do murder upon 
a defenceless prisoner, is on a par with the bush- 
whacker even inferior to him in courage. For 
mobs are courageous only through mass, num- 
bers ; or when under strong and aggressive leader- 
ship. Mobs have been known to slink away ig- 
nominiously when confronted by one or two loyal 

Disloyalty has been at the bottom of all great 
social disturbances. 

Let the spirit of true Americanism, which is 
loyalty to country, return and with it will come 
the courage to uphold the law at whatever cost. 
Then and not till then is our flag the true symbol 

Conclusion 333 

of American liberty; then and not till then will 
the phrase " American citizen " cease to be a 
banality, as it now is with many, and become 
what it is intended to be, a badge of honor, the 
most precious a man can wear on this earth. 



E of the most powerful and realistic novels 
written by an American outhor in this literary 
generation. It is a terrible expose of conventional im- 
morality and hypocrisy in modern society. Every high- 
minded woman who desires the true progression of her 
sex will want to touch the inspiriting power of this 

"No braver voice was ever raised, no clearer note was ever 
struck, for woman's honor and childhood's purity." The 
Vanguard, Chicago. 

"A novel of power, and one which will stir up a breeze 
unless certain hypocritical classes are wiser than they 
usually are." Chicago Times. 

"It conies very close to any college man who has kept 
his eyes open. When we finish we may say, not, 'Is This 
Your Son, My Lord?' but 'Is it I?'" Nassau Literary 
Magazine, Princeton. 

Cloth, Price, Postpaid, ?1.00. 



44 JV+ VERY legislator in every state should read it and ask 
*l^ his conscience whether, if such iniquitous laws are 
on the statute books of his state, he should hasten 
to move their repeal." 

"She has not written for effect! nor fame! for amusement! 
nor money! but out of her great heart and soul she has 
preached a sermon for the masses." Humanity and Health. 

Cloth, Price, Postpaid, $1.00. 



A Guide to Girlhood, 
Motherhood and Infancy 


Size, 6 x 8%; 278 pages; fully illustrated. Price, $2.00 

THIS work marks in its own line the opening of a new 
epoch. Hitherto such works have been devoted to 
treatment and a study of the abnormal; here these 
subjects yield precedence to prevention and a common-se^*""! 
exposition of the normal. The author, imbued with tac 
spirit of modern preventive medicine, points out the errors 
and abuses of modern life (so easily avoided and yet so 
easily yielded to) which affect injuriously the health of 
women and children. At the same time he clearly assists 
the mother and others to understand the physiology of 
womanhood and motherhood, the care of the infant and 
young girl and the detection and treatment of common 
complaints. The subjects of heredity, environment, educa- 
tion and schools, the home-training of children, the physical 
development of the body and the position of woman in 
modern life, are among the topics of the day which are 
touched upr- in a new light in this concisely written book. 
Each of its three sections, Girlhood, Mother hood and Infancy, 
provides the mother, the schoolmistress, and the intelligent 
nurse with a fascinating and easily understood guide and 
high ideals. 


18 East 17th Street - NEW YORK 

The Lover's World 


77[ HROUGH a long medical practice, extensive 
^ travel and many years of research, Dr. Stock- 
ham has come to know the heart of humanity. She 
now returns this knowledge in a message to all lovers. 
Love is the expression of the divine in man! Love 
of self, Love between man and woman, Love of child, 
Love of friends and comrades, and finally the love 
of the race, each and all are expressions of Cosmic 
or Universal Love. The man seeking a wife seeks 
her through his love nature; in this work he is di- 
rected to seek wisely. The woman, no more a child, 
learns that natural desires and functions should be 
dedicated to sacred uses. 'The Lover's World" not 
only contains everyday helps for everyday needs, but 
gives the key to life, revealing the secret of adepts and 
mystic orders. These, as herein presented, are no more 
secrets, but knowledge of faculties and functions giv- 
ing power, health and happiness. 

Prof. Oscar ]L. Trigrgs, University of Chicago: "I have read 
The Lover's World with great interest. At length there is 
a chance that the world will take a right attitude toward sex 
now that so many voices, such as yours and Carpenter's, ar 
raised in behalf of love and a true interpretation of sex." 

Samuel M. Jones (Mayor of Toledo, Ohio) : "It is the most 
helpful work on the subject of unity and the sacredness of ali 
life that I have seen." 

375 pages, bound in cloth, Postpaid, $:.65. 




A Book for Every Woman 


" /7[ OKOLOGY" teaches possible painless pregnancy 
^^ and parturition, giving full, plain directions 
for the care of a woman before, during and after con- 
finement. The ailments of pregnancy can be prevented 
as well as the pains and dangers of childbirth avoided 
without drugs or medicines. Women need not go down 
to death giving birth to children. 

Physicians say that the chapter on Constipation is 
the best treatise ever written on the subject, and 
alone is worth the price of the book. Chapters on 
Menstruation and the diseases of women and children. 
Change of Life is handled in a plain, common-sense 

Mrs. J. M. Davis, Sabula, Iowa, says: "I have two dear 
Tokologry babies, and during the whole nine months, both 
times, had neither ache nor pain." 

Mrs, A. Jj. T.: "An hour after the labor-pain began the 
baby was delivered. If I could not get another Tokology, I 
would not part with mine for a thousand dollars." 

Mrs. J. B. McD.: "I followed Tokology and now, after fif- 
teen years of childless married life, a sweet baby boy has 
come as a gift from God." 

The illustrations are accurate and carefully made. Nearly 
400 pages. 

Cloth, $2.25 Morocco, $2.75 





/TTHIS book gives the methods of development and 
^ strengthening the latent powers of the mind and 
the hidden forces of the will by a simple, scien- 
tific process possible to any person of ordinary intelli- 
gence. The author's first discovery was that Memory, 
whether mental, visual, or of any other kind, could, in 
connection with Art, be wonderfully improved, and to 
this in time came the consideration that the human 
Will, with all its mighty power and deep secrets, could 
be disciplined and directed, or controlled, with as great 
care as the memory or the mechanical faculty In a 
certain sense the three are one, and the reader who 
will take the pains to master the details of this book 
will readily grasp it as a whole, and understand that 
its contents form a system of education, yet one from 
which the old as well as young may profit. 

Table of Contents : 

Attention and Interest. Memory Culture. 

Self-Suggestion. The Constructive Faculties. 

Will -Development. Fascination. 

Forethought. The Subliminal Self. 

Will and Character. Paracelsus. 

Suggestion and Instinct Last Words. 

Popular priced American edition, bound in cloth, 
119 pages, postpaid, 50 cents 







Mutzenberg, Charles Gustavus 
6^52 Kentucky's famous feuds 

K*fM8 and tragedies